|Bid||200.20 x 0|
|Ask||265.00 x 0|
|Day's range||244.40 - 252.40|
|52-week range||166.60 - 390.20|
|Beta (3Y monthly)||0.61|
|PE ratio (TTM)||11.47|
|Earnings date||29 Jul 2019 - 2 Aug 2019|
|Forward dividend & yield||N/A (N/A)|
|1y target est||339.00|
A daily overview of the top business, market, and economic stories to watch in the UK, Europe, and abroad.
Sports Direct has followed up a statement announcing the departure of its auditor Grant Thornton with another saying its board was comfortable with its latest accounts. Shares of Sports Direct, led by Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, were 9% lower at 214.8 pence by 1423 GMT on Wednesday. Sports Direct, whose results were delayed last month after it received an 11th-hour tax bill from Belgian authorities that had to be assessed by Grant Thornton before it could sign off the numbers, said in an initial statement that the auditor had decided to quit following a review of its client portfolio.
(Bloomberg) -- Sports Direct International Plc plunged after its auditor quit without a replacement, heightening corporate governance concerns at the British retailer controlled by billionaire Mike Ashley.Grant Thornton U.K. LLP will depart on Sept. 11, Sports Direct said. The retailer is seeking the services of a Big Four auditor, and the accounting firm is reviewing its client roster to ensure profitability, the companies said in a joint statement.Sports Direct shares fell as much as 13% on Wednesday in London, bringing their decline over the past 12 months to more than 45%.The company last month reported a surprise tax bill of almost $750 million, the departure of its financial chief and deepening woes at department-store chain House of Fraser. Sports Direct repeatedly delayed publishing its annual results before reporting a fall in profit.“The shambles at Sports Direct is an endless tale, as long and convoluted as an Anglo-Saxon saga,” analyst Neil Wilson at Markets.com said in a note. The share decline follows “the latest sign of the complete and utter lack of control at the top.” The retailer has held discussions with the U.K. government about appointing a new auditor, according to the Financial Times, after Sports Direct said in its annual results that Big Four firms declined taking on the role because of conflicts.Sports Direct “has a longer-term aim of looking to engage a Big Four auditor in the future,” the retailer and Grant Thornton said in their joint statement.Ashley continues to snap up struggling U.K. retailers to add to the sporting-goods chain, including apparel retailer Jack Wills earlier this month. But he faces growing doubts among investors about his ability to turn around the brands.(Updates throughout with new statement)\--With assistance from Lisa Pham and Ellen Milligan.To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Pfanner in London at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Eric Pfanner at email@example.com, John LauermanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Wanted: An accountant to get to grips with a sprawling but ailing British retail clothing empire (selling everything from tracksuits to designer suits) – and its colorful billionaire founder.Unfortunately for Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct International Plc, no one is biting. Grant Thornton U.K. LLP won’t seek reappointment as the company’s auditor, and other firms appear to be steering clear too. Ashley has had to ask the British government about what it will do if he’s left without external oversight, according to the Financial Times. This includes the possibility of the state appointing an auditor itself.It all reinforces the sense that things are spinning out of control for Ashley, Sports Direct’s founder and chief executive, after he purchased a string of troubled British store chains over the past year, including House of Fraser. The company’s annual financial results were also delayed after the discovery of an unexpected 674 million euro ($753 million) tax bill. Struggling to find someone to audit your accounts wouldn’t be a good look, explaining another 9% drop in its share price on Wednesday. After several big British corporate failures – including Carillion, BHS and Patisserie Valerie – auditors are under huge regulatory scrutiny and are cracking down on what they perceive as risky clients. While Sports Direct has warned that it can’t give guidance on its current financial year because of the uncertainties about the ailing House of Fraser, the worry here for external accounting firms is more to do with Ashley’s unconventional corporate governance (where he pretty much does as he pleases) and establishing a proper understanding of all the businesses he’s bought. There are ways the impasse could be resolved, though. One idea would be to pay a bigger audit fee to compensate for what’s a more perilous process, although this wouldn’t necessarily do much to improve the feeling of security among investors who’ve pushed the share price down by 46% over the past year.A better option would be for Ashley to improve the company’s corporate governance, for example by strengthening its board with more heavyweight non-executive directors and relinquishing some control. He could also offer more details on all of its recent investments.Ashley’s eccentricities have long been a feature of Sport Direct. Investors in the group know what they’re letting themselves in for. But the latest crisis shows his unorthodox approach is starting to interfere with its ability to do business. This should be a moment for him to take stock. He has to change – or consider taking the company private.As for the broader audit market, there needs to be a clear process in place for those who find themselves in Sports Direct’s shoes. The government does have the power to appoint an auditor to a quoted company if it fails to do so itself. But this is hardly comforting for any affected businesses, and especially their investors.Ashley is one of the first chief executives to face this dilemma. With a more risk-averse audit profession, he won’t be the last.To contact the author of this story: Andrea Felsted at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andrea Felsted is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the consumer and retail industries. She previously worked at the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Britain's FTSE 100 tumbled to its lowest in more than two months on Wednesday after the yields on 10-year U.S. and UK government bonds fell below two-year equivalents for the first time since the financial crisis, signalling mounting fears of recession. The FTSE 100 index, already under pressure from weak Chinese economic data, ended down 1.4%, with losses across all but one sector.
Sports Direct said its auditor Grant Thornton had quit, leaving the retailer struggling to find a replacement after it said last month that talks with other members of the "Big Four" accounting firms which audit most major companies had not been fruitful. Grant Thornton, the group's auditor since 2007, will not seek reappointment at Sport Direct's annual shareholders' meeting next month following a review of its client portfolio, the company said on Wednesday, without giving any further reason for the decision. Sports Direct's results were delayed last month after the company said it had received an 11th-hour tax bill from Belgian authorities that had to be assessed by Grant Thornton before it could sign off the numbers.
The UK's financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has launched an investigation into alleged fraud at five-a-side football pitch operator Goals Soccer Centres Plc, the Sunday Times newspaper reported. Goals said earlier this month that it would delist its shares from London's AIM market in September after an investigation into its accounting uncovered "improper behaviour" going back almost a decade and made it impossible to file last year's accounts on time.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- A year ago, Mike Ashley was being hailed as a possible savior of Britain’s rapidly depopulating shopping districts. Now, after the comically delayed announcement of his company’s annual results last month, the colorful sportswear billionaire looks like just any other struggling retailer.It’s 12 months since his Sports Direct International Plc struck a deal to acquire the ailing department store chain House of Fraser. Ashley, who had long stalked the business, now regrets the move. The acquired business has had an instantly negative effect on the wider group, which showed up starkly in its results statement.House of Fraser’s poor trading shouldn’t really have surprised anyone after years of chronic under-investment. Add in supplier problems and cautious consumers and it racked up more than 50 million pounds ($61 million) of losses from August to the end of Sports Direct’s financial year on April 28. Ashley is even losing money on House of Fraser stores where he’s paying no rent.While this hasn’t turned out to be the “Harrods of the high street” of Ashley’s dreams, he did at least manage to limit some of his financial exposure. Sports Direct paid 90 million pounds for the assets, and invested a similar amount in working capital, but it did pick up House of Fraser’s shop stock too. That might have been worth more than the purchase price.Ashley was never likely to keep all of House of Fraser’s stores. He’s still planning more upmarket outlets in Glasgow, Belfast, Liverpool and Newcastle. He’s keen too to sell more of the designer labels that have made his Flannels chain of smaller stores a hit, so having bigger flagship department stores will help. Many House of Frasers will probably be closed though.Ashley, who’s been targeted by U.K. politicians before because of his employment practices, can legitimately say he’s tried to save jobs. But turning around a chain with “terminal” problems (his words) was just too difficult. While he will no doubt be criticized, stemming financial losses and making Frasers – the new name for the high-end chain – smaller and higher quality make sense.Nevertheless, even this more limited ambition is a huge challenge, and his company has problems elsewhere. Its strategy of improving the attractiveness of its core Sports Direct stores – known for their “pile ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap” approach – hasn’t gained traction yet. Nike and Adidas are still reluctant to supply it with the latest sneaker models.An unexpected 674 million euro ( $754 million) tax bill – which caused that embarrassing delay in the results – was another unwelcome surprise and smacks of a group that’s spinning out of control. Indeed, Sports Direct’s management has been stretched thin by a string of Ashley investments that have also included Game Digital, a video game retailer, and Jack Wills, a struggling apparel supplier to affluent teens. This has been compounded by the departure of key executives, including the head of retail Karen Byers.In the current climate, Ashley’s strategy of having lots of high street property, in which he can drop different brands (which he usually buys on the cheap) appears sensible. In a distressed market, why not try to take advantage of the misery elsewhere? He might still take a fresh tilt at Debenhams, another British department store chain that’s now owned by a group of lenders and hedge funds.But Sports Direct appears to be fighting fires on too many fronts. Investors, who have pushed the shares down by 42% in a year, are right to be skeptical. Ashley has to win over the big brands for his Sports Direct chain, and some luxury names at House of Fraser. Given the history of his stores, that won’t be easy.While net debt is forecast to remain an undemanding 1.5 times in the current financial year, according to analysts, and the Sports Direct chain still generates cash, upgrading stores and making strategic investments isn’t cheap. As I’ve argued before, Sports Direct would be better off as a private company. Ashley, who owns 62% of the shares, says he has no intention of doing this because without outside shareholders he would be “uncontrollable.” But it’s hardly as if he’s been reined in by the demands of being a listed company.As it is, minority investors have little option than to hope he makes the right choices from here. There may yet be method in the Ashley madness, but he needs to prove that the last year wasn’t all just folly.To contact the author of this story: Andrea Felsted at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andrea Felsted is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the consumer and retail industries. She previously worked at the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Vansteenkiste will replace Sergio Bucher, who stepped down from his role in April, shortly after the company was put into administration. Debenhams declined to comment. Sky News earlier reported the management changes and said http://bit.ly/2ZHBOpI the announcement will be made public on Thursday.
British department store group Debenhams will appoint Stefaan Vansteenkiste as its new chief executive officer, while Terry Duddy will step down as chairman in September, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday. Vansteenkiste will replace Sergio Bucher, who stepped down from his role in April, shortly after the company was put into administration. Debenhams declined to comment.
Sports Direct International plc (LON:SPD) is a risky bet, but JD Sports Fashion plc (LON:JD) looks safer to me, despite recent share price rises.
Five-a-side football pitch operator Goals Soccer Centres Plc will delist its shares from London's AIM market next month after an investigation into accounting issues uncovered improper behaviour going back almost a decade and made it impossible to file last year's accounts on time. The company, in which retail tycoon Mike Ashley's Sports Direct holds a near 19% stake, said its audit for full-year 2018 had been suspended and that its shares would stop trading on the index from Sept. 30. Goals shares have been suspended since March after it identified "substantial misdeclaration" of value added tax (VAT) and it said on Friday that it was clear that improper behaviour over accounts "involved a number of individuals for a period since at least 2010".
Five-a-side football pitch operator Goals Soccer Centres Plc will disclose on Friday that the accounting crisis which caused its shares to be suspended in March dates back a decade, Sky News reported on Thursday. The disclosure would make it almost impossible for the company to prepare audited accounts by the end of September, meaning it would face being delisted from the London stock market, Sky News said http://bit.ly/2KiCVWC. An investigation by the accountancy firm BDO has uncovered evidence of apparently false profit and capital expenditure entries in company's accounts, Sky News added.
Following a whole cocktail of bad news, what could happen next at Sports Direct International plc (LON: SPD)? And is one of its rivals a far better investment?
British sporting goods retailer Sports Direct International Plc on Monday blamed an eleventh-hour tax bill from Belgian authorities for a delay in reporting results on Friday. Sports Direct - whose shares closed down 6.5% on Monday - also said it was unlikely the 674 million euro ($751.04 million) sum sought by Belgian authorities would have to be paid and that there was no need to make a provision for it. Sports Direct's results were originally due on July 18, but the company and its auditor needed more time to prepare the accounts.
The firm made the decision to resign after Sports Direct informed it of the tax bill just hours before Grant Thornton was due to sign off on the company's annual results, the FT said. Grant Thornton is set to step away from its role after the troubled retailer's annual general meeting in September, the FT said. A Grant Thornton spokesman said the company had no comment on the FT report.