February 8, 2019 / 6:59 AM / 13 days ago

UPDATE 2-Germany's Ceconomy shares jump 20 pct after sales top expectations

* Q1 sales rise 1.7 pct to 6.9 bln euros, ahead of poll

* Q1 EBITDA hit by 34 mln in costs for management overhaul

* Online sales up 28 pct to break 1 bln euro mark (Adds quotes from CFO, shares, analyst, details)

By Caroline Copley

BERLIN, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Shares in Ceconomy surged more than 20 percent on Friday after Europe’s biggest consumer electronics retailer posted better-than-expected sales for its first quarter, buoyed by Black Friday discount days and upbeat online sales.

Ceconomy, which runs more than 1,000 Media Markt and Saturn stores across Europe, has faced fierce competition from Amazon.com and other online outlets, prompting a string of profit warnings last year that led to the departure of its top management team.

The retailer has been trying to better integrate its stores and online range and said an improved management of Black Friday, when customers placed 1 million orders online, boosted sales in the its fiscal first quarter from October to December.

Revenues for the period rose 1.7 percent to 6.88 billion euros ($7.82 billion), topping the most optimistic forecast in a Reuters poll, driven by its online business that surpassed the 1 billion euros mark for the first time.

Its shares, which have lost two-thirds of their value in the past year prior to the results, rose as much as 21 percent and made their biggest positive move since Ceconomy was split from Metro in 2017. Shares were up 14.5 percent at 0856 GMT.

Baader Helvea analyst Volker Bosse said the results were “better than feared” and highlighted like-for-like sales growth of 2.4 percent after three negative quarters.

Bernhard Duettmann, who has been acting as interim finance chief since Jan. 1, said sales stabilised in the first quarter. But he said reorganising the group after a challenging 2017/2018 would dent overall earnings performance this year.

“We are really in a year of upheaval,” he told reporters.

Duettmann said the company needed to cut costs and said it would take up to two years for some initiatives, such as a plan to centralise its logistics operations, to pay off.

MANAGEMENT OVERHAUL

Ceconomy appointed a new top management team at the end of January, after its previous chief executive officer quit in October and its chief financial officer left in December.

Joern Werner takes over as CEO in March, while Karin Sonnenmoser will become the CFO.

Severance payments related to the departure of 16 members of the management team dragged profit lower in the quarter by 34 million euros.

As a result, earnings before interest and tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) fell by 5.5 percent to 291 million euros, below the average forecast for 295 million euros.

Ceconomy maintained its outlook for operating profit to decline slightly in 2018/19, while sales adjusted for currency and portfolio changes should rise slightly. (Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Edmund Blair)

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