Updates from Tesco, M&S and JD Sports Fashion

Most markets rose yesterday with the FTSE 100 climbing +0.74% to 6,098. Lloyds was the biggest riser with shares climbing +4.94% while Sainsbury's results depressed investor optimism: its share sank -2.89%.

Overnight the Nikkei 225 is up +0.70% to 10,652 while the Hang Seng is up +0.65% to 23,240.
A big day for corporate numbers. We begin with two retail heavyweights. First, Tesco. Like-for-like sales climbed +1.8% in the six weeks up to to 5 January while online sales soared +18%. In the UK, total sales including VAT and petrol grew 4.2% and by 4.3% excluding fuel.

Tesco claims improvement in its food business in-store also helped. Finest and Everyday Value ranges, it claims, outperformed; clothing enjoyed a stronger period - again, both in-store and online - on top of positive performances in the last two quarters.

"Asia," it says, "delivered an increase in total sales of 7.6% (8.1% at actual exchange rates), with a slightly better like-for-like sales growth rate than the third quarter."

Next, M&S. Its trading numbers actually arrived 12 hours early due to a media leak. Clothes and general merchandise sales are poor - down -3.8% in the 13 weeks to 29 December - though food climbed +0.3%. Overall group sales climb +0.6% but like-for-like UK sales are down -1.8%.

The steep drop in clothes and general merchandising is down to a claimed reluctance to avoid early discounting and improve profits. Sales from mobile devices were up over 90% and Christmas Food to Order was up 5%.

"We expect," said M&S, "the pressure on consumers' disposable incomes to continue in 2013. As a result we remain cautious about the outlook for the year ahead. Our plan is to transform Marks & Spencer from a traditional UK retailer to an international multi-channel retailer. We are making good progress."

Finally, JD Sports Fashion and a claimed record Christmas trading period for its core UK and Ireland Sports business with like-for-like sales for the seven week period ended 5 January up 3.2%. After 49 weeks cumulative like for like sales for these businesses are up 2.4% it says.

The rationalisation of Blacks and Millets is now firmly underway. But the performance "in the Outdoor Fascias has been disappointing in the Christmas period, this was the result of the proposition bought into by the previous management team."

Christmas 2012, says exec chairman Peter Cowgill, did see however "robust performance from our core Sports Fascias. Both international development in the Sports Fascias and multichannel development throughout the Group represent significant continuing growth opportunities."

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