UK Markets closed

Sports Direct results delayed for hours with no explanation

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
A company logo is seen outside a Sports Direct store in Vienna, Austria. Photo: Leonhard Foeger/Reuters

Shares in Sports Direct (SPD.L) fell on Friday after the company unexpectedly and repeatedly delayed the publication of its results.

Sports Direct was due to put out its half-year report on Friday. Listed companies typically publish their results at 7am UK time to give investors an hour to digest the numbers before the London Stock Exchange opens at 8am UK time.

However, Sports Direct’s results had not been published as of 8.35am UK time on Friday morning. Shares in the discount sports retailer were down 1.9% at the same time.

The company did not initially provide an update on the delay but told journalists and investors mid-morning that it was still working on the numbers and promised an update at 12pm.

At 12pm the company said it was still finalising the numbers and would update the market against at 2pm.

A spokesperson for Sports Direct told Yahoo Finance at 2.24pm: “We are still finalising our preliminary results and will update you again at 16:00.”

The company has still not commented on the cause of the unexpected delay. Shares in the discount sports retailer were down 2.6%.

Sports Direct share price on the day of the delay. Photo: Yahoo Finance UK

Sports Direct has already delayed the publication of its first-half results once. Shares crashed 10% two weeks ago after it said the numbers would be later than expected. The company blamed increased audit scrutiny and its takeover of House of Fraser, saying the delay “could materially affect the guidance” given by the retailer in December.

Sports Direct’s auditor Grant Thornton was censured by the Financial Reporting Council, which ordered Grant Thornton to improve the quality of its audits. As a result, Grant Thornton asked for more time to complete its audit and Sports Direct has had to “compile more information than in previous years,” the retailer said.

“Complexities of the integration” of House of Fraser and “current uncertainty as to the future trading performance of this business” were also delaying results. Sports Direct bought House of Fraser out of administration for £90m in August 2018.

The failure to publish results as expected on Friday comes despite a reassurance from Sports Direct on Wednesday that the numbers would be published today.

“A delay on top of a delay does not look good,” Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, said after the first delay Friday morning. “Investors will take it as a bad sign although we’re not sure if it’s just a technical glitch or something more serious.”