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Marks & Spencer, Kesa, Halfords and Dixons fall on analysts’ retail gloom

Retailers have been coming under pressure following a gloomy British Retail Consortium survey, and now some downbeat analyst comments have added to the negative mood.

Citigroup has cut a number of earnings forecasts for UK chains, given the pressure on consumers and talk of a double dip recession. The bank said:

Year to date, the UK retailers have modestly outperformed the UK equity market. However, applying recent economic downgrades to our forecasts reduces 2012 UK earnings by an average 7%. This drives a reduction in our UK sector stance to neutral (from overweight).

Among its changes, the bank has cut Kesa Electricals, down 2.95p at 989.35p, from hold to sell and moved from buy to hold on Halfords, 5.3p lower at 286.8p, and Marks & Spencer, 0.3p lower at 302.1p.

Meanwhile ahead of a trading update on Wednesday from Dixons Retail, down 0.02p at 10.98p, Nick Bubb at Arden has cut his price target on the business from 17p to 12p. He said:

Although the Elkjop business in Scandinavia (which analysts are being taken to see at the end of the week) is a great store of value for the group, it is the macro-economic pressure on the core UK business which is undermining “sum-of-the-parts” valuations for Dixons.

Tomorrow’s first quarter trading update will only cover the 12 weeks to 23 July (so it’s not bang up to date), but it is still likely to bring more downgrades on full-year profit forecasts, as the grim 12%-13% like for like fall in the UK in the first quarter that the market has been softened up for would require an implausibly big shift in momentum in the rest of the year, notwithstanding the soft comparisons from now on, to even hold last year’s £85m pretax profit (which is our current forecast).

Pending more news tomorrow, we cut our 17p target price to 12p (a 20% discount to sum of the parts) and remain nervous, despite the strength of the Elkjop business and the success of the Currys Megastores, as the balance sheet is fragile. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds