What the analysts say
The verdict from global analysts on major company news
Shares in Danone edged up in Paris today, reflecting a cautiously optimistic response from the market and the hope the French group could finally have come to grips with some of the challenges that weighed in 2014. However, the verdict on Danone's fresh dairy business was mixed and concern over the struggling unit lingers.
Nestle revealed today (19 February) that full-year earnings rose on one-time gains and improved margins. Net sales were down due to the impact of currency exchange but the company booked organic sales growth of 4.5%. The sales performance met consensus expectations but came in below the "Nestle Model" that targets organic growth of 5-6% in the medium term. Shares in the Swiss food giant remained relatively flat this morning, reflecting the market's lukewarm response to Nestle's outlook - with sales expected to grow by "around 5%" in 2015 - and concerns over currency exchange.
Unilever today (20 January) reported sales that came in below expectations. The company's top line has been hit by macroeconomic factors, particularly in emerging markets, as well as ongoing category decline in margarine. However, a focus on productivity enabled the group to accelerate margin expansion during a period of higher input costs for raw materials such as dairy and chocolate. The City's response has been as mixed as Unilever's performance.
Tesco seems to be lurching from one bad news story to another. The UK retailer today (22 September) admitted it had over-stated half-year profits by GBP250m. The timing of the accounting of payments between Tesco and suppliers is said to be a central factor. Four executives have been asked to go on leave while the retailer investigates. Tesco's shares, unsurprisingly, tumbled this morning.
Shares in Nestle closed up today (7 August) after the world's largest food maker reported underlying sales that beat analyst expectations. Nestle's stock would have been helped by news of a share buyback but analysts were broadly positive about the company's performance.
Unilever today (24 April) reported first-quarter underlying sales ahead of the market's expectations. Shares in the consumer goods giant closed down, perhaps amid concerns foreign exchange would have on the company's top line. However, drilling down into the results, the City found reasons to be positive about Unilever's ice cream - and recently maligned - spreads businesses.
Tesco reported a disappointing set of full-year numbers with both sales and profits falling this morning (14 April). The UK retail behemoth has faced declining consumer spending and a battle to make its big-box stores relevant. But has the company hit the bottom of its downward curve and will the group's 2014 performance improve? Here is what the City had to say about Tesco's performance.
Morrisons reported a full-year loss of GBP176m (US$293.6m) and further deterioration of like-for-like sales today (13 March). Management this morning set out a new strategic course for the group, which includes a GBP1bn price investment over the next three years. While next year's profits are expected to drop, the company believes the investment can be funded through a cost-saving drive in the medium-term. However, with concern over margins and competitive pressures, opinion remains divided over the prospects for the beleaguered grocer.
Carrefour's 2013 results came in above market expectations, with analysts praising the French retail giant's work in recent years, particularly in its domestic market. Signs of an improvement in Spain were also welcomed. However, there is concern Carrefour's management, part-way through a turnaround of the business, has some tough tasks ahead.
Ahold's shares rose yesterday after the retail giant's fourth-quarter margins beat market forecasts. However, some analysts believe the Dutch grocer faces challenges at home and in its biggest overseas market, the US.
Danone booked a drop in 2013 earnings today (20 February) as margins were dented by higher input costs in fresh dairy. However, the group said it is taking action to stabilise margins - prompting analysts to largely conclude that the worst could be over for the French dairy giant.
Nestle booked a mixed set of full-year numbers today (13 February). The world's largest food group saw a drop in operating profit due to the cost of disposals and issued a cautious outlook for 2014. However, trading operating profit was up on improved margins and the company was able to shrug off some of the weakness it saw in the first half of the year. Analyst reactions have been equally mixed.
Morrisons' unscheduled Christmas trading update surprised the City this morning in more ways than one. Like-for-like sales fell almost 6%, under-performing its rivals by some distance. The decline was evidence the impact the growth of discounters Aldi and Lidl is having the UK's fourth-largest grocer.
Tesco this morning (9 January) revealed a disappointing drop in like-for-like sales over Christmas and New Year. The retailer attributed the decline in sales to "further weakness in the UK grocery market" and having a "tougher comparative" versus last year. The results had a negative impact on share recommendations, although some analysts highlighted areas for optimism, including Tesco's work online.
The disappointing third-quarter top-line performance reported this morning (4 December) by Tesco has left analysts divided over the group's strategy. Tesco has cut capital expenditure on new stores and is instead investing in refurbishments and multichannel growth. Management has insisted the strategy will simply take time to deliver results. But, with the clock ticking, another set of weak numbers has raised questions over whether Tesco's investment focus will pay off. Here is the view from the City.
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