Daily Mail

Sainsbury’s leads charge as sector senses Xmas joy

- By John Abiona

RETAIL stocks rallied as City analysts struck a positive note about trading ahead of Christmas.

Shares in Sainsbury’s rose 0.9pc or 2.7p to 274.5p after Barclays maintained its ‘overweight’ rating and raised the stock’s target price to 310p from 300p.

The bank said that the FTSE 100 company’s core grocery business was in ‘good health’.

The upbeat outlook came a day after Britain’s second biggest supermarke­t increased its annual profit forecast.

Looking ahead, Barclays added that the ‘possibilit­y of Sainsbury’s making additional cash returns to shareholde­rs has long been on the horizon, but the moment of decision appears to be arriving’.

In a further boost for the sector, Shore Capital’s Clive Black said that grocery, food and drink retailers appear resilient in the face of higher interest rates compared with big ticket consumer brands.

He said: ‘In the present 5.25pc base rate environmen­t, we expect further resilience in demand for lower ticket items and affordable treats, and we believe that the forthcomin­g 2023 festive season in the UK will see strong food and booze demand, and selective gift purchasing, but gifting nonetheles­s, whilst for bigger ticket plays, the environmen­t can be expected to be constraine­d.’

Among the blue- chip retailers, Ocado was up 6.5pc or 33p to 542.2p while Kingfisher added 3.5pc or 7.6p to 222.5p and JD Sports increased 3.9pc or 4.9p to 131.4p.

In London’s mid-cap index, Currys rose 3.9pc or 1.8p to 47.8p after the electrical goods retailer sold its business Kotsovolos, which trades in Greece and Cyprus, for £175m to Public Power Corporatio­n.

It was part of the group’s strategic review that aimed to simplify operations so it can focus on the UK & Ireland and the Nordics.

Liberum’s Adam Tomlinson and Wayne Brown said the sale is an ‘excellent outcome’, adding: ‘It would mean the group is effectivel­y selling 7pc of total sales to bring in net proceeds amounting to around 30pc of the current market cap.’

There was a slight dip in thirdquart­er sales at Wickes as homeowners held back from splashing out on major renovation projects.

But with business picking up, the home improvemen­t firm insisted its annual profits should meet market expectatio­ns.

Shares fell 0.8pc or 1p to 130.5p.

The FTSE 100 fell 0.4pc or 28.8 points to 7417.7 while the FTSE 250 added 1.2pc or 216.5 points to 17,983.8.

It was a strong end to the week for One Savings Bank (OSB) following target price upgrades from Berenberg and Barclays. It came a day after the specialist lender said it expects its loan book to grow by 9pc this year, up from its previous target of 7pc.

Shares increased 5.4pc or 18.2p to 353p – taking its gains for the week to 13pc.

And Smith & Nephew was rewarded for its improved outlook after JP Morgan raised the medical devices group’s rating to ‘overweight’ from ‘neutral’.

On Thursday the company upgraded its forecast for revenues this year to grow towards the higher end of its 6 to 7pc range.

Shares added 2pc or 19.6p to 981.6p.

Oil prices dipped more than 2pc as Brent crude fell below $85 a barrel.

It sent BP down 1.8pc or 8.6p to 489.9p while Shell dropped 4.2pc or 115.5p to 2,652.5p.

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said: ‘Crude oil prices look set to close lower for the second week in a row as investors grow more confident that the tension in the Middle East will remain fairly contained’.

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