J Sainsbury plc Reports 5.3% Profit Growth

Shares J Sainsbury (LSE: SBRY) increased a little over 1% after the market opened for business this morning, as the grocer’s underlying profit before tax increased 5.3% to £798m in 2014. This was ahead of analyst expectations, and today’s results are the last for Justin King, the chief executive who will leave in July.

sainsbury'sSainsbury’s sales rose 2.8% to £26.4bn, but like-for-like sales, which exclude new store openings, increased just 0.2%. Mr King called the retail environment “competitive”.

Sainsbury’s maintained market share at 16.8% in the 12 months to 2 March — the only ‘Big Four’ supermarket to do so.

Justin King commented:

“While the general economic outlook is showing some signs of improvement, conditions in the food retail sector are likely to remain challenging for the foreseeable future as customers continue to spend cautiously.”

“We remain confident that our differentiated offer, supported by the ‘value of values’, Nectar data and Brand Match, will allow us to outperform our peers in the year ahead.”

The board has recommended a final dividend of 12.3p, taking the full year dividend to 17.3p, up 3.6% on last year. The dividend is covered 1.9 times by underlying earnings.

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Mark does not own shares in J Sainsbury.