Saturday, 22 September, 2018

'Record-Breaking' Primark Lifts Associated British Foods Over Christmas

Primark Primark achieved record sales in the week before Christmas
Felix Bryan | 19 January, 2018, 02:34

The food, ingredients and retail group said it delivered revenue growth across all businesses apart from sugar, which saw revenue fall 13%.

Shares in the group, majority owned by the family of Chief Executive George Weston, were down 3 percent at 0945 GMT.

Last month, for example, analysts at RBC Capital Markets cut their price target on AB Foods from £35 to £31 and lowered earnings forecasts for Primark by 3%.

Elsewhere there was a 13pc decline in revenue from its sugar division, driven by significantly lower European Union sugar prices, which adversely affected the company's United Kingdom and Spanish businesses.

"It's supply and demand.It was a lovely summer and the beet just carried on growing", said Bason. AB Foods made 223 million pounds from sugar in 2016-17. Quarterly sales grew across each business except sugar, which slumped by 12 per cent.

The group remained bullish about full-year profits as group revenue rose 4 per cent.

Sales at Primark were up by 7 per cent at constant currency rates.

In Britain, which contributes about half of Primark's revenue, the retailer reported strong like-for-like sales growth and market share gains.

It also expects sugar production to ramp up during the next fiscal year after the EU's sales quotas and constraints on exports were abolished at the end of 30 September.

However, the banner's sales in Europe were impacted by warm autumn weather, the company said.

Liberum repeated a "buy" rating and target price of 3,500p, saying: "ABF offers compelling exposure to secular growth trends in retail over the next 5-10 years over which we estimate Primark can lift sales and profits by almost 75%".

"Operating margins in the first half are now expected to be close to those in the same period past year with better buying virtually offsetting the adverse effect of the weaker sterling to United States dollar exchange rate on purchases".

Prior to Thursday's update analysts average EPS forecast for 2017-18 was 135.6 pence, according to Reuters data, up from 127.1 pence in 2016-17.

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