Tesco

SIR Terry Leahy effectively signs off with yet another set of results which shows Tesco is negotiating choppy economic waters in a calm and assured way.

While UK sales growth of three per cent is far from stellar, growing Asian markets have helped to keep the ship moving forward.

Analysts point to the surprise forecast that the company’s US Fresh & Easy chain will be profitable by 2012/13.

Meanwhile James Grzinic, retail analyst at Jeffries International, said UK profits before financial charges of £1.22bn – compared with his forecast of £1.2bn – was “remarkable” given the headwind from petrol mix, clubcard initiatives and property charges.

Full-year net debt guidance of £7bn was better than consensus expectations of £7.8bn, while earnings per share jumped by 14 per cent. Leahy, who is planning to dedicate time to private investments, charity and watching his beloved Everton, when he leaves in March, can be more than satisfied with his legacy.

Under him the company has diversified and become more international. Whether the momentum can be maintained remains to be seen, but for now Tesco is a “Buy”.