JD Sports shares hit record amid £500m profit hope

JD Sports executive chairman Peter Cowgill

Shares of Bury-based FTSE 100 retailer JD Sports Fashion Plc rose as much as 5% on Tuesday to touch a record high around £9.50 after it estimated its headline profit before tax for the year to January 29, 2022, will be in the range of £475 million to £500 million, up from a previous forecast of £440 million to £450 million.

The confident estimate came as JD Sports resumed dividend payments and reported results for the 52 weeks ended January 30, 2021, showing revenue edged almost 1% higher to £6.167 billion and profit before tax and exceptional items slipped about 4% to £421.3 million.

Net cash at the period end was £795.4 million.

JD Sports reported “transformational developments” in the United States with “exceptional trading performance in the Finish Line and JD fascias in part driven by the enhanced consumer demand consequent to the US Government stimulus.”

JD Sports Fashion shares have risen about 60% over the past 12 months to give it a current stock market value of almost £10 billion.

On dividends, JD Sports said: “Given the significant contribution to profitability from the group’s international operations, particularly those in the United States, the board has concluded, after a careful and considered review, that it is appropriate to resume the payment of dividends.

“However, the board also recognises that, in the current situation, dividends should be modest with funding retained for our ongoing development opportunities.

“Accordingly, the board proposes paying a final dividend of 1.44p (2020: nil) per ordinary share which is at the same level as the final dividend made after the year to 2 February 2019.”

JD Sports executive chairman Peter Cowgill said: “The global Covid-19 pandemic and, more recently, the UK’s formal exit from the European Union have presented a series of unprecedented challenges which have severely tested all aspects of our business including our multichannel capabilities, the robustness of our operational infrastructure and the resilience of our colleagues.

“However, at all times, the group has strived to do the right thing for all stakeholders.

“Notwithstanding these well publicised challenges, a number of positive themes have been increasingly apparent through the year which gives us confidence that, as we begin to emerge from the worst of the disruption, JD is at the pinnacle of the global sports fashion industry.

“We have a market leading multichannel proposition which continues to enhance its relevance to consumers and has the necessary agility to progress in an environment where the retailing of international brands may see permanent global structural change.

“Our positive outlook is reflected by the fact that, even with the unique circumstances of store closures for a substantial period of the year, the group has retained substantially all of its record profitability from the prior year with a profit before tax and exceptional items of £421.3 million (2020: £438.8 million).

“We are indebted to all of our teams in our different territories for their determination and resilience in dealing with the potentially life changing challenges of the past year and we fully acknowledge the contribution from all of our colleagues in the delivery of this excellent result.

“Our recent completed acquisitions of Shoe Palace and DTLR in the United States together with the conditional acquisition of Sizeer in Central and Eastern Europe are important steps in our evolution which will transform our consumer connection in these markets and further develop our key brand relationships.

“Whilst we must recognise the substantial level of temporary store closures to date and ongoing, we remain confident that we are well placed to benefit from the opportunities that prevail and, at this early stage, our current best estimate is that the group headline profit before tax for the full year to 29 January 2022 will be in the range of £475 million to £500 million.”

On current trading and outlook, Cowgill said: “After a difficult start to the year with a further period of store closures in a number of markets and the operational disruption from Brexit, it is pleasing to report that stores in our domestic market have now started to re-open.

“We are absolutely confident that JD’s premium multi-brand proposition retains its consumer appeal and we look forward to welcoming customers back into stores in our remaining markets in due course.

“We are encouraged with trading to date in the new year with levels of sales retention in those markets which have experienced closures running slightly ahead of those in Spring 2020.

Our recent completed acquisitions of Shoe Palace and DTLR in the United States together with the conditional acquisition of Sizeer in Central and Eastern Europe are important steps in our evolution which will transform our consumer connection in these markets and further develop our key brand relationships …

Whilst we must recognise the substantial level of temporary store closures to date and ongoing, we remain confident that we are well placed to benefit from the opportunities that prevail and, at this early stage, our current best estimate is that the group headline profit before tax for the full year to 29 January 2022 will be in the range of £475 million to £500 million.”

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Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.