Chocolatier Thorntons saw its share price dip alarmingly on Monday after shocking the market with a double-digit first quarter sales reversal.

After posting an 11.9% quarterly sales fall, shares fell by as much as 12.5% to hit a new annual low of 87p on Monday before starting a sustained recovery that saw the shares back to 100p on Thursday morning - slightly up on the 99p closing price at the end of last week.

Thorntons Shares

Thorntons shares: click to enlarge

If the share price movement looks strange it is because Thorntons’ own numbers are equally as difficult to decipher. At first glance, the figures look awful. The company suffered a 12.8% sales fall to £20.8m in its fmcg division, with UK commercial sales plunging by 16.4%, while retail sales dropped by 10.9% to £20.6m.

But analysts were unperturbed, noting that Thorntons had previously advised of quarter-to-quarter “volatility” due to its shift to being a more fmcg-focused business and the increased effect of order phasing. Charles Stanley maintained its buy recommendation with a 200p target price, noting: “We still believe the group is making substantial, sustainable progress.”

Although the Monday share price fall was wiped out, investors might take more convincing as the company’s shares are still 40% down since early March.

Elsewhere, WH Smith continued to defy its army of short-sellers as its share price jumped 4.5% on Thursday morning to 1,041p after issuing strong full-year figures. The newsagent group posted an 8% increase in full-year pre-tax profit despite a 3% decline in like-for-like sales due to tight cost controls.

Global alcohol producers had a tough week as their crucial growth in emerging markets slows. SABMiller was 4.6% down to 3,150p after seeing a 1% dip in second-quarter beverage volumes due to a marked slowdown of beer sales in Asia Pacific. Diageo edged down 0.2% on Thursday morning to 1,706p after reporting a 1.5% decline in first-­quarter sales after a similar slowdown in Asia.