Sports Direct share plunge continues after shocking results
They were down more than 20% in early trading as investors ran for the hills, although they recovered later and are down just under 10% at time of writing.
The earnings report had been delayed from earlier this month and was meant to be released first thing on Friday, its non-appearance sending the shares down on Friday as well. The report eventually arrived after the markets closed and included news of an unexpected €674 million tax bill in Belgium.
This, combined with controlling shareholder Mike Ashley's comments about House of Fraser and the fact that the company has been on a buying spree of distressed businesses, as well as losing its entire state in Debenhams earlier this year, severely undermined investor confidence in a company that was once a stock market favourite.
While Ashley, who owns over 60% of the company, has always been something of a maverick, his apparent Midas touch in previous years helped to support the share price. But a number of loss-making investments (the most prominent of which was the almost 30% stake in Debenhams) have undermined investor confidence in him.
The early Monday 20%+ plunge was perhaps understandable given the issues highlighted in the earnings statement. But the fact that the fall moderated later in the day suggest that some investors still see value in the shares.
This could be connected to speculation that Mike Ashley could attempt to take the group private again, despite his assertion at the weekend that he wouldn’t do this.
The retail billionaire set up the company in 1982 and listed it on the London stock exchange in 2007. The shares reached a high of 922p each back in 2014 but are currently trading at around 209p, giving the business an entire market capitalisation of £1.12 billion today.
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