Morrisons Profits Jump 11% As Sales Continue To Rise

Morrison's store

Morrisons to hand shareholders special dividend as turnaround continues

Morrisons announced today an 11 per cent jump in full-year profits as it continues its turnaround programme.

The Bradford, northern England, based group, which trails market leader Tesco, Sainsbury's and Walmart's Asda in annual sales, said on Wednesday it made an underlying pretax profit of 374 million pounds ($522.6 million) in the year to February 4.

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The UK's fourth largest supermarket chain announced FY like-for-like sales growth (ex-fuel) of 2.8%, marginally ahead of the 2.7% analysts expected and an improvement on last year's 1.9% increase, although some shareholders likely noting a slowing from H1 (+3.0%) despite returning to 2.8% sales growth in Q4.

The supermarket said it has seen "meaningful, sustainable sales and profit growth, with strong cash flow" for 2017, having returned £237m to shareholders in accordance with its capital allocation framework and reducing its debt by £221m to £973m, below the £1bn year-end target. The big four member said rising import costs and other "cost headwinds" had provided "challenges", but they continued their strategy of "Fix, Rebuild, and Grow". "We will continue to prioritise consistent, meaningful and sustainable growth, which I am confident we are well placed to keep delivering".

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Clive Black, of Morrisons' house broker Shore Capital, said the special dividend reflected "just how far" the business had come under the leadership of its chairman Andy Higginson, chief executive David Potts, and chief financial officer Trevor Strain. While management is now guiding towards £700m in wholesale supply sales before year end, and £1bn in "due course", a continued retreat in the retail contribution to LfLs may see the need for these estimates to be raised further in order to build upon the two years' of growth now enjoyed at the group.

"All parts of our progress so far have one common link: our colleagues".

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