AUSTRALIA: Speculation on Coles Myer's future prompted by results
Supermarket giant Coles Myer released its results yesterday (12 October), prompting speculation on two levels. Firstly as to the levels of shareholder support it is maintaining, and secondly as to whether the retailer thinks that shareholder fidelity is all that really matters for the time being anyway. Coles is claiming that the A$483m profit is a record figure, especially impressive considering the difficult trading environment currently being experienced in the retail sector. Five years ago, however, the group posted profits of A$423m that were not far off the present level; and since then the company has been bolstered with capital expenditure of A$7bn.Recent performance on the stockmarket has been dismal, and attempts to win back the shareholders were expected. On the whole, however, returns for shareholders have rested around 17.7%. And, with the recent announcement that Coles is embarking on a buyback scheme estimated to be worth A$220m, many have suggested that the supermarket is more interested in redevelopment than holding onto shareholders.Speculation on the chain's international expansion has abounded since the early 1990s, but until now Coles has been more focused on consolidating its Australian market share.
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