Thursday, January 27, 2022

Tesco faces legal threat ahead of half-year results

Tesco is expected to record a third consecutive quarter of rising sales this week as the UK‘s biggest supermarket chain continues its battle in a fierce price war with other grocery retailers.

However, just two days before the interim results are released, the supermarket giant has come up against a legal threat from investors who allege they lost £150 million due to the accounting scandal of 2014.

Half-year results on Wednesday are expected to reveal signs of Tesco‘s recovery, with an uptick in sales and profits following a 0.3 per cent rise in like-for-like sales over the first quarter and 0.9 per cent rise in the previous three months.

Recent industry figures indicate its next trading update would be its best performance since March 2014, partly thanks to its “summer drinks” promotion that tapped into the nation‘s celebratory mood for Team GB‘s success in the Olympics and Paralympics.

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However, according to Kantar Worldpanel, Tesco‘s market share continued to decline, falling from 28.2 per cent to 28.1 per cent in the 12 weeks to September 11.

Nonetheless, analysts at Jefferies expect sales growth of around 0.5 per cent in the second quarter, while Macquarie experts are predicting a 0.6 per cent increase.

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In contrast, Tesco‘s main rival Sainsbury’s – which recently completed a £1.4 billion takeover of Argos parent company Home Retail – posted a 1.1 per cent drop in like-for-like sales excluding fuel for the second quarter.

Analysts are also expecting a major increase in Tesco’s pension deficit in light of the Brexit vote.

Macquarie experts said despite Tesco’s fears over the hit from lowering prices, they expect “clear evidence of a UK margin recovery gaining pace”.

The predictions come as after a group of 60 investors allege lost £150 million following Tesco’s accounting scandal in 2014, in which it overstated profits by £263 million.

Law firm Stewarts Law and litigation funders Bentham have spent two years putting the case together, in which they said investors were “misled by information inaccurately provided to the market”, and were set to file the claim with the high court this month.

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