A flat market has given a boost to grocery retailers and manufacturers and our basket's well ahead of the game A flat market has pushed up The Grocer's shares this month as investors bought into the defensive qualities of the sector. However, in spite of the fact that every one of the companies in our basket has done well, it's not necessarily all good news on the retail side, according to Teather and Greenwood's Rowan Morgan. He warned that when the stock market recovered generally, retailers' shares were unlikely to move much. Morgan said the retailers were benefiting from being picked for the overall defensive qualities of the sector and that Sainsbury was the best example of this with the biggest increase of 31p. He added: "People are still buying the Sainsbury recovery story, but we're a little more sceptical. Safeway on the other hand is doing ok, but investors are a little unconvinced. We're quite positive about them, but people are still saying let's see how the next bit works' There's sceptism which we think isn't warranted." Morrisons remained solid, although expensive, while Tesco failed to gain much upward momentum. The flat market has also benefited our companies on the manufacturing side where, again, investors were seeking defensive stocks. Cadbury was the star performer according to David Hallam, of Williams de Bröe, who said the company had exceeded market expectations and achieved growth despite the flat markets for the UK chocolate and US carbonated beverage markets. "They've beaten expectations for the year just finished and set the agenda for double digit growth this year," he said. Unilever was also doing well, performing in line with expectations, driving top line growth and improving margins as a result of restructuring. Dairy Crest was also up, and Hallam said this could be due to overall market speculation because of the likely sale of Express Dairies. Northern Foods has also shown improvement, selling its yogurt and fromage frais business to Nestlé. Hallam added: "It's good news because they got a good price and are out of an area that's under increasing pressure." {{MISCELLANEOUS }}