Be Prepared for Marks & Spencer Group's Results

LONDON -- Marks & Spencer  (LSE: MKS  ) is due to announce its annual results on Tuesday this coming week (May 21). At the time of writing, M&S's shares are trading at 424 pence -- up 18% from a year ago, in line with the rise of the FTSE 100.

How will M&S' business have performed in 2012/13 compared with the previous year? And will the results justify the performance of the shares? Here's your cut-out-and-check results table!

 Metric

FY 2011/12

Forecast FY
2012/13

Forecast
increase

Revenue (billion pounds)

9.93

10.07

1.4%

Underlying profit before tax (billion pounds)

0.71

0.66

(7.1%)

Underlying earnings per share (pence)

34.90

32.16

(7.9%)

Dividend per share (pence)

17.00

17.08

0.5%

Sales and profits
Analysts are forecasting a modest rise in revenue, and the number should be pretty accurate because M&S has released sales growth figures for all four quarters of the year.

However, despite the rise in revenue, the City experts predict a 7% to 8% drop in underlying profit and EPS, due in part to difficult trading conditions and increased operating costs.

Dividend
At the half-year stage, the company held the interim dividend flat at 6.2 pence for the third year running. The consensus for the full year is for a minimal 0.5% increase, but within the consensus many analysts are expecting the final dividend to also be held for a third consecutive year. That seems almost certain to me, so look out for a final dividend of 10.8 pence, giving a total of 17 pence for the year.

General merchandise
M&S has been doing well on the food, online, and international segments of its business, but these positives continue to be undermined by weak performance from general merchandise (clothing and homeware).

As the table below shows, general merchandise has been struggling for quite some time now.

General merchandise

Q2 2011/12

Q3 2011/12

Q4 2011/12

Q1 2012/13

Q2 2012/13

Q3 2012/13

Q4 2012/13

UK sales growth (%)

(1.9)

(0.8)

(1.2)

(5.1)

0.1

(2.2)

(2.2)

Like-for-like U.K. sales growth (%)

(2.5)

(1.8)

(2.8)

(6.8)

(0.8)

(3.8)

(3.8)

Last autumn, M&S shifted John Dixon, chief of the food business, to head up general merchandise, aided by a new "style director," Belinda Earl, the ex-boss of Debenhams and Jaeger.

Any tangible improvement to general merchandise under the new team won't be seen until the launch of its first new collections this summer. As such, don't expect to hear anything much about general merchandise in next week's results beyond the repeated refrain that the team is working hard and making progress.

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