The Motley Fool

Are these FTSE 100 stalwarts’ best days ahead of them?

Holders of Burberry (LSE: BRBY) and Marks & Spencer (LSE: MKS) have had a contrasting last few weeks. While the former’s shares have slipped 8% since the start of April following a lacklustre trading update, the latter’s have climbed by 10% following the announcement of a boardroom shake-up by CEO Steve Rowe. 

With final results expected on the May 18 and 24 respectively, is it worth ditching the luxury good manufacturer and piling into one of the UK’s biggest retailers? Or do better days lie ahead for both companies?

All change

Burberry’s recent share price slide needs to be put in context. In the last year, the stock’s been the clear winner, rising 38% since last May. A lot of this can be attributed to the fact that Burberry exports a great deal of what it produces. Sterling’s slump was the company’s gain.

So after such a strong run, it was perhaps inevitable that last month’s announcement of a 1% reduction in revenue (at constant currencies) would bring forth a period of profit-taking.

The official arrival of Marco Gobbetti should, however, settle investors’ nerves, particularly as it was believed that outgoing CEO Christopher Bailey was taking on too much with his additional duties as Chief Creative Officer.

Changes in management at Burberry are minor considering what’s happened over at Marks recently. The company has managed to lure Halfords boss Jill McDonald to run its its clothing business and retail veteran Archie Norman to act as the company’s new chairman. On top of this, the £6bn cap also announced that it will “soft trial” an online food delivery service in the Autumn. 

Time to buy?

Not so fast. While some may view recent developments as an indication that both Marks and Burberry have bright(er) futures, its would be grossly optimistic to assume that no challenges lie ahead. 

M&S’s decision to dive into home delivery is not a guaranteed home run. Not only is it coming late to the party compared to competitors, there’s also the argument that its traditionally more expensive offering won’t appeal to the masses when considering their weekly shop. The odd convenience meal and bottle of wine? Sure. A shopping trolley overflowing with food? Perhaps not, particularly with inflation marching upwards. So, while the new service may delight existing customers, I’m not convinced it will be enough to draw others away from the more established players.

Second, while recent appointments have been almost universally applauded, I remain concerned by how much of a poisoned chalice the clothing operation seems to be. And does a complete lack of experience in this area make Ms McDonald the best choice for the role? I’m not so sure.

Over at Burberry, I’m a little more bullish. The decision to appoint the hugely-experienced Gobbetti looks sound. So too does the company’s recent decision to relocate some workers from London to Leeds in a measure that could save up to £100m. Although global economic concerns could still sink the share price, the long-term potential is far greater at the £7bn cap, in my opinion.

Right now, shares in Marks trade on a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of just 13. In sharp contrast, Burberry’s stock trades of 21 times 2017 earnings. Given the choice, however, I’d back the trench coat producer any day.

10 steps to £1,000,000

Buying good companies on temporarily depressed share prices can often work out very well for savvy investors keen on building their wealth over the long term. 

If you're interested in maximising your chances of succeeding in the stock market, download this special FREE report penned by the experts at the Motley Fool.  

They've highlighted 10 simple steps you can take right now that could set you on the path to creating a million-pound portfolio.

Sounds too good to be true? It really isn't. Click here and get reading.

Paul Summers has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Burberry. 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.