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JD Sports delivers record first-half earnings despite tough UK retail market

JD Sports said it remains "confident that we are well positioned to deliver an outturn in line with current market expectations"
JD Sports
JD Sports raised its interim dividend by 4%

JD Sports Fashion PLC (LON:JD.) achieved record first-half earnings as the sportswear retailer’s international expansion led to a jump in revenues.

Profit before tax in the six months to August 4 came to £121.9mln, up 19% compared to the same period a year ago. Revenue increased 35% to £1.8bn with like-for-like sales up 3%, supported by the US$558mln acquisition of US athleticwear firm Finish Line earlier this year and the opening of new stores across Europe and the Asia Pacific.

The company delivered growth across all its regions, including the UK where bricks and mortar retailers have struggled against weak consumer confidence and online competition.

"This is another record result for our group demonstrating that our multibrand multichannel premium offer has resilient profitability in its core UK and Ireland market with capacity for continued growth across an increasing number of international markets,” said executive chairman Peter Cowgill.

"Against a backdrop of widely reported retail challenges in the UK, it is extremely reassuring that the profitability in the UK and Ireland Sports Fascias has been further enhanced.”

READ: JD Sports on track to deliver annual results in line with market forecasts, says chairman

The group declared an interim dividend of 0.27p per share, up 4% on the previous year. 

Turning to the second half, JD Sports said sales have continued at similar levels to the first half.

“We remain confident that we are well positioned to deliver an outturn in line with current market expectations which, including a part-year from Finish Line, range from £337mln to £345mln and we also remain encouraged by our prospects for future growth,” Cowgill said.

In mid-morning trading, JD shares were 0.5% higher at 489.90p.

It is possible to thrive on the high street

Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown commented: ‘There’s not too many retailers on the UK high street who can boast a 50% rise in their share price over the last year, but that’s just the sweet spot JD Sports finds itself in.

“The retailer is now knocking on the door of the FTSE 100, and currently matches Marks & Spencer in terms of its equity market value.”

He added: “Expansion hasn’t come cheap, and that’s meant JD Sports has swung from having net cash of £222.7mln on the balance sheet, to being in debt to the tune of £85.1mln.

“That level of borrowing is well-covered by earnings though, and shareholders won’t mind the additional spend as long as it bears fruit.”

Khalaf concluded: “JD’s performance shows it’s possible to thrive on the UK high street, though future store openings in this country are likely to be limited. That means the retailer will be looking to digital and overseas sales, and possibly further acquisitions, to drive growth forward from here.”

 -- Adds share price, analyst comment --

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