Market Prognosis

A concise summary of the major macro events of the past 24 hours, and selected UK company-specific news.

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January 10, 2024

Greggs deliver, Sosander expands and Marks warns

Macro & Overnight

The Bitcoin price was more volatile than usual overnight as speculation waxed and waned regarding the SEC’s expected approval of about a dozen applications for ETFs. There remain strong indications that SEC approval will be granted today for ETFs from providers such as Blackrock and Fidelity, among others, despite erroneous reports online that approval had already been granted late yesterday.

UK Company News

Persimmon said they anticipate market conditions will remain highly uncertain during 2024, particularly for first-time buyers. However, they note that mortgage rates are beginning to ease, and input costs continue to moderate. 

Greggs said that FY23 total sales were up nearly 20%, opening 220 new shops to end the year with 2,473. Inflationary pressures are reducing, and its full-year outcome remains aligned with its previous expectations.

Sosander, the female fashion brand, updated on a record quarter with revenue up 23%. Gross margins rose due to reduced promotional activity. Joint CEOs say this continues to validate their multi-channel strategy after successful launches in Australia and Canada, and they plan to open their first UK store this spring. They also reiterated their strategic goal of delivering £100m+ revenues and a pre-tax profit margin of at least 10% in the medium term. 

Marks Electrical updated Q4 revenue growth of 17.8% and increased market share in its retail household appliances and electrical goods categories. However, despite proactive cost action, it warned that product margins did not rise to the expected level with a material impact in the peak trading period, which has had a material impact on profit guidance. 

Marks Electrical is a well-run but tricky business to get right. business with an actively involved founder and CEO, Mark Smithson, leading from the front. He is justifiably proud of the 60,000 TrustPilot reviews, with 95% 4 and 5 stars. He knows from 37 years of trading that margin fluctuations are inevitable. These periods present an opportunity to learn, ultimately enabling the Group to create long-term value and position us as the UK’s leading premium electrical retailer. Marks’ focus on the premium end of the market with a small but growing share should be attractive if the UK housing market continues to recover and lead to increased housing transactions. In the meantime, Marks will remain in the investor doghouse. The shares are sharply lower today.  

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