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Forecast hits M&S shares

Shares at Marks & Spencer fell to below 217p this week after an analyst downgrade ahead of the retailer’s interim results next week.

Pali International analyst Nick Bubb moved his recommendation from neutral to sell after poor high street trading.

M&S posted better than expected results earlier this month, with like-for-like sales down by 6.1% for the 13 weeks to September 27.

But Bubb said it was necessary to review forecasts ahead of next week’s interims. He estimated that like-for-like sales for the second half of the year would be down by 6% to 6.5% but did not rule out an 8% dip. This would see the full-year pre-tax profit drop from £670 million to £640m, according to Bubb.

He added: “With more downgrades and a dividend cut on the horizon, we think M&S’s rating can crack further.”

Seymour Pierce analyst Freddie George reiterated a sell recommendation. He said M&S was “not in great shape for the difficult outlook.”

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