Investors in drinks group Diageo have endured another tough ride this week with shares slipping 6% to 1,821.5p since news emerged that the US Securities and Exchange Commission was looking into the Guinness maker’s distribution practices. The company’s stock also faltered in New York, where it holds a dual listing, after the Wall Street Journal broke the story.
Jefferies analyst Martin Deboo noted that channel stuffing was a serious charge that came with a high burden of proof. “Any investigation will be a further source of distraction to an already embattled management team,” he said. “It has been under intense pressure to restore growth. This requires both clear heads and clear diaries.”
Diageo’s annual results on Thursday also failed to clear the hangover as net sales of £10.8bn in the year to 30 June represented a 1% fall on an organic basis - the third straight year of declining numbers. Its reliance on emerging markets continued to harm growth, as did changing consumer tastes and a booming US craft beer market. Boss Ivan Menezes pointed to green shoots in 2016, promising improved revenues next year.
There was more positive news for Tate & Lyle, which had a grim share price run over a year filled with profit warnings and falling sweetener prices. The sucralose manufacturer’s stock climbed 6.6% to 539p on Wednesday after reassuring the market its first-quarter trading was in line with expectations. Robert Waldschmidt at Liberum said it was a “solid start” in a transitional year: “Tate still needs to demonstrate that the business can deliver sustainable, profitable growth and improve cashflow generation to cover future dividends and support debt repayment or M&A.”
Tesco and Morrisons were two of the biggest fallers on London’s blue-chip FTSE 100 on Tuesday as Kantar Worldpanel’s latest market share data once again haunted the supermarkets. Morrisons stock fell 1.2% to 179.3p, despite being the best performing of the big four with sales down just 0.1%. Shares in Tesco slipped 0.9% to 212.5p as its sales declined 0.6%.