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Analysts response: Debenhams' profit warning

Debenhams’ unscheduled trading update has seen focus shift to Marks & Spencer as potentially another loser from the snow.

Debenhams today published an update saying it had been “severely disrupted” by snow and was downgrading its profit guidance to £120m as a result.

But the business also noted that it had grown market share outside of the snowy period, leading some analysts to suggest that rival M&S might have fared worse in the reporting period.

Independent analyst Nick Bubb said the report “[implied] that others (M&S?) were also affected, even though John Lewis was barely affected at the end of January”.

Espirito Santo analyst Sanjay Vidyarthi also picked up on this element of the update. “There will clearly be read-across to others today, Marks & Spencer in particular,” he said. “We sense that M&S will have continued to have lost market share but possibly held margins.”

Debenhams’ warning that profits would be below previous guidance has seen consensus forecasts drop across the board, but most analysts have retained their existing recommendations so far.

Panmure Gordon analyst Jean Roche kept the hold recommendation, but said the firm was lowering expectations around profits and margins by around 6% apiece.

However, Espirito Santo has put its estimates under review.

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