MARKET REPORT: Online shopping giant Asos is back in fashion despite profits slump

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Asos has come out fighting after a profit shock in December and a tricky trading period in the six months to February


Online shopping giant Asos was back in fashion with investors, even after releasing half-year results which showed profits sliding by 87 per cent.

After a profit shock in December and a tricky trading period in the six months to February, in which chief executive Nick Beighton conceded there were ‘a number of things we can do better’, the firm has come out fighting.

Asos refused to cut full-year forecasts, saying it had identified areas where it could improve and was ‘taking action’. Investors were convinced, as shares jumped by 7.8 per cent, or 247p, to 3397p.

Part of the problem for millennial-favourite Asos has been its major investment in new technology and infrastructure, which has caused significant disruption and costs as it moves systems.

Asos has come out fighting after a profit shock in December and a tricky trading period in the six months to February

But in a sign that the business may have taken its eye off the ball, Beighton added: ‘We should have stocked more animal print skirts.’ Such items proved hugely popular with customers over the period, and Asos admitted it had not ordered large enough quantities of the most in-demand products. Heavy discounting also weighed on its performance.

Though profits fell from £39.9million to just £4million, group sales were up by 14 per cent to £1.3billion. But in an effort to prove to investors that his business’s growth story wasn’t over yet, Beighton said: ‘Asos is capable of a lot more.’

Elsewhere in the fashion world, Ted Baker was trying to move past the hugging scandal involving boss Ray Kelvin as it announced a Chinese joint venture. 

Stock Watch – Arena Events 

Shares in seating and hospitality business Arena Events surged after the firm released strong results for 2018.

Revenue at the company, which provides seating to ITV’s Dancing on Ice and the 2018 Ryder Cup, was up 24 per cent to £135million, and the dividend was raised by 11pc to 1.5p.

Boss Greg Lawless said he expected more growth, especially in 2020 which will see the US Open tennis tournament, the US Ryder Cup and the Tokyo Olympics. Shares rose 20.6 per cent, or 6.5p, to 38p.

It will partner with Shanghai Longshang to create a new company, which will manage Ted Baker’s presence in the region and aim to drive its expansion. Shares rose 1.2 per cent, or 18p, to 1488p.

The FTSE 100 ended the day almost flat, down 0.05 per cent, or 3.66 points, at 7421.91. 

Reckitt Benckiser was one of the biggest drags, falling 6.5 per cent, or 416p, to 5992p as it tried to distance itself from troubled drugs company Indivior.

Tesco stood out among the blue-chips, climbing 3.6 per cent or 8.4p, to 242.3p as it revealed a surge in profits. 

And Pagegroup boosted the FTSE 250 into the black, as the recruiter brushed away worries that Brexit might be dampening the jobs market.

Profits over the first quarter of 2019 climbed in all four of its key regions – the UK, Asia Pacific, the Americas and Europe, Middle East and Africa. Shares rallied 5.4 per cent, or 26.8p, to 520p.

After the start of 2019 heralded the quietest quarter for stock market listings in eight years, a slightly busier second quarter continued with the float of Network International.

The Dubai-based payments group hit the stock market with its shares priced at 435p, but by the end of the day they had soared 20 per cent to 522p, giving the company a value of around £2.4billion.

Britons still have a taste for bowling, according to Hollywood Bowl, which saw revenues grow by 5.4 per cent in the first half of its financial year to March 31. Investors may have been hoping for more, however, as shares dipped by 1.8 per cent, or 4p, to 216p.

Despite winning a £1.5m contract with transport manufacturer Bombardier, surveillance software firm Petards slid after releasing results for 2018.

Its revenue jumped from £15.6million to £20million, but costs overshadowed the performance and profits dipped from £1.2million to £1.1million. Shares fell 8 per cent, or 2p, to 23p.

Canada-focused oil and gas firm Cabot Energy whipped up excitement as it confirmed it was still in funding talks with buyers and investors. The company cautioned earlier this month that it needed new cash to survive, but shares yesterday rocketed 50 per cent, or 4.75p, to 14.25p.

 



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