Profit Warning at Greggs


The shares of Greggs slumped 8.6% to 423 pence during London trade today after the company revealed that like-for-like store sales had declined more than 4% since last year.

Greggs, the largest bakery chain in the U.K., reported a 3% improvement in total sales, with new shops and additional wholesale and franchise income counterbalancing the performance at the existing stores.

The company blamed "adverse weather" in January and March, as well as "lower footfall across much of the estate," for the disappointing same-store performance, but it claimed the trends had been improving during the last two weeks.

The company confirmed that it had refurbished 59 stores in the first quarter, with plans to refit a total of 250 shops during 2013. Meanwhile, 10 new stores were opened, taking Greggs' total shop count to 1,681.

Offering its outlook for the year, the company commented:

We do not expect a significant improvement in the difficult underlying market conditions in the short term. Although we are only four months into the year, based on current own shop like-for-like performance we believe that profits for the year are likely to be slightly below the lower end of the range of market expectations.

Despite good cost control, overall profits have been affected in the first quarter of the year and are behind our plan and last year. The business remains highly cash-generative and maintains a strong balance sheet position.

Following today's update, Greggs trades at about 11 times this year's expected earnings and offers a prospective dividend yield of 4.2%. Of course, whether that valuation and the general prospects for the wider bakery industry combine to make Greggs a buy is up to you.

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