If I’d invested £1,000 in Next shares at the start of 2023, here’s what I’d have now

Next shares have gained in popularity in 2023 so far. So, how much would I have if I’d bought the stock at the start of the year?

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Just as with many of its retail peers, Next (LSE:NXT) shares started the year on the front foot. However, they’ve faced quite some turbulence in recent weeks. With that in mind, how much better off would I be had I bought the stock earlier this year?

A sleek return

If I’d invested £1,000 exactly three months ago, the retail stock would have generated a return of approximately 10% on my investment. This translates to roughly a profit of £117 (excluding broker fees and/or capital gains tax).

MetricsNext shares
Amount invested£1,000
Stock growth10%
Total dividendsN/A
Total return£1,110
Data source: Next

Given the time frame and wider performance of the stock market, Next shares have actually generated a rather decent return. The FTSE 100 is pretty much flat, while the S&P 500 is up 7% since January. Nonetheless, there are a couple of reasons for the shares’ rally in the first quarter of the year.

For one, consumer confidence started to tick back up, which encouraged an increase in discretionary spending. Additionally, forecasts for a UK recession were retracted. Thus, it was no surprise to see the clothing company’s stock gain as much as 20%.

Next Shares - ONS Retail Sales.
Data source: ONS

Fashionable numbers

Having said that, the strong double-digit gains that Next shares experienced have dissipated since early March. This can be attributed to the wider effects of the banking crisis, as well as investors practicing some caution.

The positive outlook for the sector is not a cause for celebration just yet with businesses and consumers alike still facing a cost-of-living crisis.

Harry Leyburn, Saxo

What’s more, investors didn’t seem to feel particularly jubilant about the firm’s most recent earnings report, despite it posting higher profits than guided. The group even reiterated its guidance for the year ahead. It anticipates full-price sales to be down 1.5% and profits of approximately £800m.

MetricsFY23FY22Change
Total revenue£5.03bn£4.63bn9%
Operating profit£0.94bn£0.91bn4%
Profit before tax (PBT)£0.87bn£0.82bn6%
Basic earnings per share (EPS)£5.73£5.318%
Data source: Next

All in all, this was a good report with plenty of positives to take away. Therefore, it’s a surprise to see the sell-off in Next shares. What’s more, the FTSE 100 stalwart expects inflation to play a more benign role in its cost structure, which is good news for its bottom line.

Should I buy Next shares?

Healthy free cash flow and robust profit margins (14%), despite the inflationary backdrop, shows that Next is a strong business with excellent pricing power. Nevertheless, the state of its balance sheet leaves plenty to be desired — it has high levels of debt with thinning liquidity.

Next Financials.
Data source: Next

Moreover, Next shares aren’t particularly cheap either when assessing its valuation multiples against the industry average. As such, it’s no wonder brokers Jefferies and Shore Capital rate the stock a ‘hold’. And with a target price of £67.50, the potential gain from current levels isn’t big either (12%).

MetricsNextIndustry average
Price-to-book (P/B) ratio7.01.7
Price-to-sales (P/S) ratio1.60.9
Price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio11.417.6
Forward price-to-sales (FP/S) ratio1.60.4
Forward price-to-earnings (FP/E) ratio13.012.3
Data source: Google Finance

Ultimately, I believe the company will continue to grow in the years to come. After all, its acquisition of many smaller names should expand its product offerings. But due to its high multiples, I see better opportunities in other FTSE retail names for now, hence I won’t be buying Next shares today.

Should you invest, the value of your investment may rise or fall and your capital is at risk. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be assessed. Consider taking independent financial advice.

John Choong has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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