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Next’s sales figures for its third-quarter are up 4.3%; above the guideline target of between 1% and 4%, and a sizable increase from its first-half growth rate of 2.3%. This performance has enabled the firm to increase full-year pre-tax profit targets from a £635-675 million range to a £650-680 million range. Much of the credit for this improvement must go to the late surge in the UK’s summer weather, coupled with the Next’s Directory sales which jumped by 10.7%.
Next has long been one of the darlings of the investment world, as the last two years on the chart below highlight. Although the dividend yield of 2.11% might be a little low in comparison to the current 3.6% average of FTSE 100 equities, this is more than made up for in the solid capital growth that the company has had. The biggest question hanging over shareholders is: how long can it maintain this solid growth for?
The company has sizable exposure on the UK high streets, with more than 500 stores around the UK and a further 200 outlets abroad, but it has been the company’s Directory and consistently improving online sales that have helped keep it at the forefront of the clothing retail market.