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Today’s biggest news today, of course, is inflation, Mervyn King’s letter to the chancellor and the pound going above $2, but in corporate news we have a dreadful statement from Debenhams.

The department store group has issued its third profit warning since floating last May. The shares, off 12 per cent this morning, are more than 20 per cent below the offer price of 195p, which is pretty disgraceful. So, for the record, the advisers we have to thank are: Michael Lavelle, Theodore Kuh and Jan Skarbek of Citigroup, and Rupert Hume Kendall and Simon McKenzie-Smith of Merrill Lynch. Both those banks (same team at Merrill) also brought us Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct, with some help from Credit Suisse. That stock has fallen 17 below its offer price in less than two months. The people who risk being more seriously tarnished, however, are the one-time golden boys, chief executive Rob Templeman and chairman John Lovering. Today they are blaming a “challenging” UK retail market, warm weather and the timing of Easter, but it doesn’t really wash.

Also interesting are the robust full-year results from Tesco and news that it is returning £3bn to shareholders from property sales. Sainsbury’s take note. Chief executive Terry Leahy also says consumers are feeling the effects of higher interest rates and higher council taxes.

Burberry, meanwhile, said it had achieved underlying revenue growth of 20 per cent in the second half but warned it would see a slowdown in wholesale and licensing revenue growth this year.

Rumour of the day: International Power shares are up 1½ per cent on talk of a bid from Suez. FT Alphaville is pretty scornful of the rumour, though, saying Suez already has its hands full.

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