Dixons Retail 'well-positioned' for year aheadContinue reading the main story
Shares in Dixons Retail, which owns Currys and PC World, have risen 7.4% after the electrical retailer reported better-than-expected annual results.
The group said underlying pre-tax profits fell 17% to £70.8m in 2011-12, but this still beat forecasts.
Like-for-like sales, which exclude new store openings, fell 3% on the year.
But the group also pointed to the fact that like-for-like sales were up 5% quarter-on-quarter, and said it was "well-positioned for the year ahead".
Net debt almost halved to £104m from a year earlier.
The company added that it was "on target" to make a £160m repayment due in November. This followed the agreement of a new credit facility with its banks last month.
Electrical goods retailers have faced tough competition from supermarkets and online retailers. On Wednesday, rival Kesa said profits almost halved in the past year.'Improving fortunes'
Dixons said it was making good progress in the UK and Ireland and northern Europe, but this was offset by weaker performances in southern Europe and at its online business Pixmania.
In the UK, like-for-like sales fell 4%, but underlying operating profits rose 15% to £78.8m.
Neil Saunders, managing director of retail research agency Conlumino, said that "although the full-year numbers look soft, they hide a trend of improving fortunes".
"In the case of the UK at least, there is no doubt that some favourable drivers, including the digital switchover and new technology releases, have helped contribute to a stronger final-quarter performance," he said.
"Nevertheless, given the ongoing economic weaknesses across Europe and the consequent lack of consumer confidence this is a robust performance as a whole and is testament to the strategic initiatives Dixons has been taking over the past couple of years."