Debenhams in fresh plunge

by from interactive investor |

The latest instalment of retail suffering comes from Debenhams, where the fear remains that the train has left the station.

Trading remains under plan for the period May to early June despite weak comparatives. Gross margin is flatlining, whilst debt is increasing as the company attempts some form of retail resuscitation. 

Meanwhile, stronger competitors are edging further ahead, and this profit warning adds to Debenhams' recent litany of woes. In terms of the inevitable share price thump today, the broader concerns regarding the current spat between the US and China are generally dampening sentiment even further.

Highlights are few and far between – the growth in the online business of 16% is notable, even though this remains a smaller part of revenues.

Source: interactive investor      Past performance is not a guide to future performance

The revamp of stores and product lines may improve the situation in due course, whilst next year's reduction in capital expenditure should at least improve the debt situation. The projected dividend yield of 7.6%, if it can be maintained, provides scant solace.

Even before today's latest plunge, the shares had lost 57% over the last year - as compared to a 3% rise in the wider FTSE All Share index – and 20% in the last three months alone. 

In the absence of any reassurance from the company as to real progress, investors will continue to leave the store in droves, with the market consensus of the shares as a 'sell' unfortunately very likely to remain in place.

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