The UK's biggest retailers are surging on the London stock exchange this morning, after Next unveiled a strong set of sales figures for the festive period.
Next's stock has jumped more than eight per cent this morning, after it hiked profit guidance for the current year, based on a better than expected sales performance in the run up to Christmas.
And its cheery outlook has helped push rival retailers' shares up this morning: Primark owner Associated British Foods rose 2.9 per cent, Debenhams climbed 3.8 per cent and Marks & Spencer inched up 1.6 per cent.
"Next’s results are a belated, but very welcome, Christmas present for investors across the retail sector," said Hargreaves Lansdown's George Salmon.
"Colder weather may have boosted sales in the run-up to Christmas, but the real positive is the more optimistic outlook from Next’s chief executive Simon Wolfson. The long-serving CEO has an excellent reputation in the industry, so for him to say that one or two of the headwinds facing the UK’s retailers should ease in the year ahead represents a significant fillip to the sector.
"He’s putting his money where his mouth is too. The decision to use the expected £300m of surplus cash generated next year to fund share buybacks rather than special dividends implies management believe the shares represent good value at the moment. With the Wolfson name prominent on the shareholder register, the CEO has got more than a passing interest in getting these decisions right."