Shares in Marks & Spencer rose 21p to finish on 653p yesterday despite the release of lacklustre half-year sales from the retailer.

M&S reported like-for-like food sales growth of just 0.5% for the 26 weeks to 29 September, with food sales up 8% to £1.996bn. Group pre-tax profit rose 11.5% to £451.8m on group sales up 6.5% at £4.2bn.

Analysts welcomed the news that the retailer was planning to open stores in China and India next year but were concerned that like-for-like sales growth had slowed.

Philip Dorgan, an analyst at Panmure Gordon, said the results marked a turning point for the retailer.

“Either history is going to repeat itself and a £1bn investment programme will flounder, or M&S is poised for an extended period of double-digit earnings per share growth. We are agonistics at this point,” he told the Financial Times.

Rod Whitehead, an analyst at Deutsche Bank, added: “I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt due to disruption from the store refurbishments and weather.”

Eithne O'Leary, an analyst at Oriel, told the Daily Telegraph: “M&S is executing well at the moment but the fact that the recovery has largely run its course makes it difficult for the business to overcome the difficulties engulfing the wider high street. We expect headwinds in the second-half to sap the momentum out of the business.”