Strong retail trading lifts Clicks Group earnings
Release Date: 2010/04/22
Cape Town – Clicks Group today announced a 24.5% increase in diluted headline earnings per share to 100 cents for the six months to end February 2010, boosted by the continued strong trading results from the Clicks chain.
An interim distribution of 30.5 cents per share was declared, an increase of 24.5%. Return on equity showed a further marked increase from 38.1% to 46.2%.
Chief executive, David Kneale, said all the group’s businesses traded well and strengthened their market leading positions.
“While there has been no marked improvement in consumer spending over the past six months, the health and beauty markets in which the group operates have continued to show their resilience and grown well ahead of the overall retail sector,” he said.
The group’s retail turnover increased by 15.2% to R4.8 billion. This was driven by the robust performance of the Clicks chain which lifted turnover by 17.5%. Clicks has grown market share across all of its core merchandise categories.
Clicks opened 17 in-store dispensaries in the past six months, extending the national pharmacy network to 224 out of a total store base of 354.
The group’s pharmaceutical wholesaler, UPD, grew turnover by 6.7% or by 14.9% on a comparable basis as the distribution agency business is no longer reflected in turnover. UPD’s growth was primarily due to the focus on its core customer groups of Clicks, hospitals, Link pharmacies and the export business, which collectively accounted for 81% of wholesale turnover.
Musica continued to show its resilience by increasing turnover by 0.5% in an entertainment market which experienced negative growth. Musica continues to gain market share and remains the country’s leading music and entertainment retailer.
Kneale said the Clicks Group is evaluating the viability of a broad-based employee share ownership scheme. “By extending equity ownership to all employees we will accelerate transformation and build on the progress we have made across all other areas of black economic empowerment. This will also allow us to attract and retain scarce and specialist skills which is critical to the sustainability of our business.”
On the outlook for the remainder of the year, Kneale said the retail trading environment is expected to remain challenging and any recovery in consumer spending is unlikely to benefit second half performance. The impact of the 2010 FIFA World Cup on retail spending remains an unknown factor, he added.
“We will continue to maximise organic growth opportunities in the health and beauty markets. At the same time we are looking to partner with government in primary healthcare initiatives. An example is the recently announced national HIV testing campaign in which Clicks and Link pharmacies are participating.”
Kneale said trading for the first seven weeks of the second half had been at similar levels to the first six months. “We are confident of sustaining our current performance in the second half and are forecasting growth of between 20% and 25% in diluted HEPS for the full year.”