Better Q4 Profits Seen

Shares in J Sainsbury, the UK’s second-largest supermarket, are trading lower today despite a better profit outlook for Q4. The group recorded a 7.1% spike in sales in the six weeks leading up to January, while the 16 weeks through to January were 5.2% higher than the previous year. The World Cup was also cited as having a positive impact within this longer period given large groups were entertaining at home. Sainsbury is now looking at a before-tax-profit in the upper end of the £630 -£690 million range.

While the company noted the cost-of-living crisis had certainly changed consumer habits, the overall impact for the group was positive as more UK households were entertaining at home this year in light of higher restaurant/pub costs and fresh covid concerns.

Post Christmas Concerns

Looking ahead, however, the group’s CEO Simon Roberts warned that sales would likely be impacted with many households yet to face bills from the Christmas period. Additionally, with inflation still at elevated levels, the cost-of-living crisis is far from over.

In terms of market reaction to the update, given that positive news was well signalled it would likely have taken something more unexpected to help drive prices higher. The group is still involved in a fierce battle with competitors in order to keep prices down during the cost-of-living crisis as well as investments to help boost employee salaries.

With the festive season having passed, the near-term outlook for the group looks skewed to the downside with households likely to try and curtail spending ahead of the Easter period and the start of warmer weather in the UK.

Technical Views

J Sainsbury Plc

Shares have been grinding higher within a corrective bullish channel off last year’s lows. The break above 226.5 is key and while the rally has currently stalled into a test of the 249.8 level, while prices holds above 226.5, the focus is on a further push higher. Above here, 267.1 is the next key upside level to note.