JD Sports on the Right Track

Tuesday, April 17: FTSE indices were flat at the open as stocks which sold off yesterday experienced a reversal in trade, with bids for Evraz(+6.62%) and fellow miners, along with a slew of retail names. The FTSE 100 closed +0.39% as a result.

JD Sports(+5.14%) led the FTSE 250 higher as it announced that fiscal 2018 profit rose 24% which was attributed to growth in new and existing markets. For the financial year ended February 3, the sportswear retailer announced a pretax profit of £294.5m(FY2017: £238.4m) whilst revenue rose 33% to £3.16bn, as LFL sales came in 3.0% higher for the period. The gross margin slipped 50bps to 48.4% due to the inclusion of the GO Outdoors Topco Ltd. acquisition. The final dividend was lifted to 1.37p, from 1.30p, yielding a total dividend of 1.63p for the year(FY2017: 1.55p). Investors were clearly happy as the Group achieved LFLs ahead of the high street, good pretax profit growth, along with an enhanced dividend.

Sterling strengthened to a session high of $1.4376, a gain of 6.2% for 2018 before the release of employment data which narrowly missed forecasts. Average earnings growth for the three months to the end of February came in at 2.8%, rather than the consensus 3.0% forecast. This data miss prompted some profit taking in the long sterling trade, though the read still represented solid wage growth and a good chance that the MPC decide to hike UK interest rates by 0.25% next month. The jobless rate/unemployment rate fell by 16,000 jobs to 4.2%, down from 4.7% a year earlier and the lowest read since 1975.

Across Europe, indices were up at the close with the FTSE 100 +0.39%, the DAX 30 +1.57% and the CAC 40 +0.76%.

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