Woolworths (ASX: WOW) has reported its first-half results for FY20. We take a look at the company’s headline figures, key commentary and guidance outlook, plus review the share market’s reaction across the trading day.
Woolworths has managed to grow total revenue from continuing operations by 6%, reaching $32.4bn.
The company’s normalised net profit after tax before significant items has come in at $979m, up 15.7%, however, the result including significant items sees that figure drop to $887m, which is 1.7% lower than the prior comparable period.
A fully-franked interim dividend of $0.46 per share has been declared. WOW shares will trade ex-dividend on March 4, 2020, while the payment date for the dividend will be April 9, 2020.
Woolies shares were caught up in the market-wide sell-off, with the stock trading lower by 2.7% to finish the day on $40.73.
The company has observed strong performance in all of its divisions, courtesy of broad sales growth and a reduction in the cost of doing business (CODB), which both underpinned EBIT growth. EBIT before significant items was $1.89bn during HY20, a gain of 11.4% on last year’s result.
Woolworths’ digital strategy is picking up momentum, with online sales rapidly growing by 31.6% to $1.65bn. The Australian Food division performed robustly, with EBIT growing 8%, albeit sales growth has slowed so far in early H2. Elsewhere, NZ Food, Endeavour Group and Hotels all recorded sales growth of mid-single digits.
One of the areas of concern in prior reporting periods was the performance of Big W, however, this division has recorded its first H1 profit since FY16.
Currently, the business is in the process of fully separating the Endeavour Group, with a restructure approved. In the meantime, efficiency initiatives remain a focus for the company, with management paying close attention to total stock loss, the Melbourne South Regional Distribution Centre (MSRDC) and the retailer’s Customer Operating Model.
Salary payment shortfalls have been addressed in part throughout the half, with $69m in payments made to affected staff, however, management has updated original estimates for the entire scope of these payments across the business to a gross before-tax cost of $315m, plus $80m in interest and other costs.
Despite the slow start to 2020, fuelled by natural disaster and economic uncertainty, Woolworths’ management has reiterated confidence in the company’s plans for the second-half.
Locally, higher food inflation is expected in the Australian Food division, and the ramp-up of the company’s MSRDC has been slower than expected. Nonetheless, management are targeting further improvement in total stock loss.
While Endeavour Group will likely encounter a subdued trading environment as it is separated from the main business, Woolworths believes there are new growth channels for the division to pursue. Big W profits are expected to moderate in the second-half on account of seasonality, but still turn a positive result across the full-year.
Ongoing costs relating to team-salary adjustments are expected to be in the vicinity of $35-45m per year.
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