Marks & Spencer Group plc (MAKSY) posted stronger-than-expected full year profits and maintained its dividend but cautioned on an "uncertain" outlook in the months ahead.
M&S, as it is known in the U.K., said full year pre-tax profits came in at £613 million ($795 million), firmly ahead of the FactSet consensus of £592 million but down 11% from the previous fiscal year. Full year sales for the year ending in March were tabbed at £10.6 billion, a figure that was around 0.6% higher than last year and largely in-line with analysts' estimates. The company will maintain its annual dividend at 18.7 pence per share, it said.
"Last year we outlined a comprehensive plan to build strong foundations for the future," said CEO Steve Rowe. "We said we would recover and grow clothing and home, continue with our plans for Food growth, remove costs and simplify the business. We achieved a huge amount in the year and whilst there is still much to do, I am pleased with our progress and we remain on track."
"Looking ahead, we will continue our programme of self-help in a tough trading environment," Rowe added. "We remain committed to delivering for our customers and shareholders as we build sustainable foundations for the future."
M&S said fourth quarter sales in its food division, which generates the majority of its annual revenues, fell 2.1% on a like-for-like basis while sales in its Clothing & Home division, which has the highest margins, declined 5.9% in the three months ending in March on a like-for-like basis.
M&S shares were marked 0.6% higher at 390 pence each in the opening hour of London trading, compared to a 0.1% decline for the FTSE 100 benchmark, taking the year-to-date gain to around 11.4%.