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20-05-08 17:04
Marks Shows Profit Sparks

By JOHN ROWLING
Marks and Spencer, the British consumer institution, has long since been considered a 'bellwether' for British spending - that is to say, its profit...

Marks and Spencer, the British consumer institution, has long since been considered a 'bellwether' for British spending - that is to say, its profit margins provide a general guide for the way the consumer market is going.

Therefore, analysts have treated with interest the news that Marks and Spencer's annual profits hit £1 billion. However, the reaction from city analysts has been mixed, as the retailer nevertheless cut its staff bonus, having failed to meet internal targets.

Tony Shiret, analyst at Credit Suisse, told Reuters today that he believed Marks and Spencer's annual profits could fall to £800 - £900 million this financial year, but the worsening consumer market could make even that hard to achieve.

Conversely, Richard Edwards, analyst at Citi, said he believed, in the context of the UK market, that Marks and Spencer's figures were "a rare and resilient outcome".

This is the first time in ten years Marks and Spencer has made a £1 billion profit, affirming belief in the ability of new Chief Executive, Stuart Rose, who took over in 2004.

Mr. Rose commented that he expected market conditions to remain difficult for at least the next year, and added: "As a retailer we would welcome a reduction in interest rates and we would welcome the government to give more confidence to consumers."





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