In the last 12 months, the Tesco share price has stood out as meeting the challenges facing the wider sector as the UK economy faces the biggest cost of living squeeze in recent memory.
The share price has seen some decent gains from a year ago, however, since the peaks in January the shares have slipped back on concerns over rising costs and slimmer margins.
In Q3 Tesco was able to grow group sales rose by 2.4% on a like-for-like basis compared to a year ago. UK retail, unlike most of its peers, saw an increase of 0.2%, and though this was below expectations of 0.6%, this was still an impressive performance when compared to the tough comparatives of last year, and on a 2-year basis this was higher by 6.9%.
Its Booker operation stood out with an in excess of 16% increase in sales on both a 1- and 2-year basis, as the reopening of restaurants, cinemas, and bars, and catering helped to boost the numbers, despite the disruption of December, and could also be a key contributor in Q4 as the UK’s number one food retailer reinforces its position at the top of the UK food chain.
As we look to today’s full-year numbers the UK’s number one food retailer saw group sales excluding fuel rise 2.5% to £54.77bn, while adjusted operating profit beat expectations, coming in at £2.83bn, a rise of 58.9%. Free cash flow surged by almost 70% to £2.28bn.
Including fuel sales, group revenues rose 6% to £61.34bn, with fuel sales rising 48% as people moved about more relative to 2020 when a lot of the population was locked down.
Today’s numbers have been an impressive performance across the board with UK retail seeing a 0.4% rise in like for like sales, while the reopening of the hospitality sector helped its Booker operation grow like for like sales by 15.3%.
Although today’s numbers are good news for shareholders with Tesco undertaking to pay a final dividend of 7.7p a share, management were cautious about the outlook going forward.
For 2023 adjusted operating profits are expected to come in between £2.4bn to £2.6bn, a modest decline on today’s numbers.
This shouldn’t come across as too surprising when you consider today’s CPI number showed that inflation surged in March to 7%, and we haven’t even taken into consideration the various price and tax rises that are expected to hit consumers wallets in April.
Tesco has pledged to continue its Aldi price match scheme and extend it to 650 lines, along with various Clubcard promotions.
This determination will in turn keep pressure on margins with the likes of Aldi and Lidl likely to keep the pressure on the whole sector, with Tesco’s peers of Sainsbury, Asda and Morrisons facing similar challenges.
Tesco has already pledged to increase staff wages in its efforts to retain service levels, raising salaries by 6%, while rising fuel prices are likely to increase the costs of maintaining its delivery and logistics operations.
The supermarket is also undergoing a three-year cost-saving program, as it looks to cut £1bn, by repurposing space in-store, closing its Jack’s brand, and improving its procurement processes.