Woolworths Research

Woolworths (WHL) – Lightened the load

WHL delivered good results for FY23, with turnover growth from continuing operations of 10.6% y-y and diluted HEPS growth of 14.8% y-y (continuing operations). The sale of David Jones was completed at the end of the third quarter, resulting in R7.7bn of value extraction (of which R3.3bn remains tied up in the Bourke Street property). The realised value is in line with our expectations and the exit allows management to now focus on three core divisions. The improvements in FBH are encouraging and we assess the impact of more full-priced sales and lower markdowns. We calculate full-priced sales grew by 14.7% y-y, while markdown sales contracted by 9.2% y-y. However, we estimate that FBH’s unit sales may still have contracted by 2.6% y-y, suggesting the turnaround has not yet resulted in significant market share gains. While the Food division has delivered reasonable topline growth of 8.5% y-y, comparing it to Checkers’ 18.0% y-y growth over the same period suggests that rival Pick n Pay’s (PIK) market share losses may be mainly gained by Checkers. Country Road has performed well, but the slowdown from 2H23 is concerning. Although management believes trading conditions will improve from 2H24, we think the issues in the Australian economy may take longer to resolve. Consumers must deal with the 400bps hike in interest rates over the past year, while 1.3m fixed-rate home mortgages will reset over the next two years. CRG’s elevated stock level, therefore, raises the risk of markdowns in FY24, in our view.