News Column

Asos loses nearly 4% more in wake of profit warning

June 9, 2014

Nick Fletcher, theguardian.com



Asos will not like what it continues to see on screen after last week's unexpected profit warning.

The company - first launched as As Seen On Screen - has lost another 123p or 3.6% to 32.27 in the wake of a 40% drop as it said full year profits would be around a third lower due to the strong pound. It had to offer hefty discounts to shift excess stock, and the City is also worried about the costs of expansion, especially in womenswear.

Analysts at Liberum issued a sell note, saying:

"If I had asked people what they wanted...they would have said faster horses." We were reminded of this quote from Henry Ford by chief executive John Roberts at the AO World results presentation last week.

We think that Asos has created a great customer centric business. But giving customers more of what they want inevitably means more cost for a retailer and we think that this will be most acutely felt for a fast fashion, value clothing retailer. We have maintained this thesis as the shares have risen, and see no reason to change now. We cut our 2014 earnings per share by 29% (positioning us 5% below guidance) and our target price from 2500p to 1440p.

But Jefferies was more positive, saying that now seemed the time to buy the shares, although it cut its price target from 62 to 57:

A year of business investment and calls on management time, with an unprecedented shift in key foreign exchange rates, brought about a 'discount' led response.

How does this play out? After a weak 2014, the incremental impacts of the investment gradually begin to come on stream in 2015. Customer experience, pricing, content proposition and logistical offer once again move forward coherently and broadly towards the 2.5bn revenue staging post.


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Source: Guardian Web


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