M&S share price suffers after downgrade ahead of third quarter results

Jessica Morris
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Marks & Spencer was one of the biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 (Source: Getty)

Marks & Spencer shares fell over three per cent in mid-afternoon trading after a downgrade by investment bank Societe Generale and as it prepares to report third quarter sales figures later this week.

The British retailer started the new year on the back foot after analysts at Societe Generale took the stock rating from "buy" to "hold".

This comes ahead of its third quarter interim statement due Thursday which commentators expect to show disappointing sales. It's thought the retailer's ongoing strength in food will be dragged down by weakness in general merchandising.

Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets, said:

Marks & Spencer is pointing south ... hampered by expectations that its set to join big name retail peers this week in revealing a slump in Christmas sales ... highlighting the pressures on grocery and high street retailers.

While M&S tends to do well with its festive food offering, falling food prices and changing habits with cost conscious consumers shopping elsewhere may have kept a lid on sales for the division.

Earlier today John Lewis managing director Andy Street said retailers should play down Black Friday. While the US-style discount day led to record sales for that particular week Street warned price cuts could hurt margins.

M&S shares were down 3.6 per cent to 460 pence at 3pm this afternoon.

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