Tesco warns on profit...again

Tesco issues another profit warning
Tesco issues another profit warning   

U.K. supermarket chain Tesco warned on Tuesday that its full-year profit will not exceed £1.4 billion ($2.19 billion), further highlighting the struggles faced by the retailer after allegations of accounting irregularities emerged earlier this year.

Analysts had expected group trading profit to come in at £1.94 billion for the year to February 2015, according to forecasts on Tesco's own website.

Shares in the company fell over 15 percent when they opened on Tuesday, but pared losses to trade 9 percent lower by 2 p.m. GMT.

More details about how Tesco plans to boost competitiveness and strengthen its balance sheet are set to be released in early January, according to a company trading statement. Shares in the embattled supermarket group have fallen 43 percent so far this year.

"On the basis of the changes and investments made to date we now anticipate group trading profit for the financial year ending February 2015 will not exceed £1.4 billion." the trading statement said.

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"In our interim results on 23 October we highlighted that full year profitability would be impacted by actions we may choose to take and that the commercial income overstatement would affect second half results as we revisited our plans with the new management team."

Leon Neal | AFP | Getty Images

Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown stockbrokers, said the trading update "provided more ammunition for the snipers".

"If there had been hope that the market would be immune to yet another profit warning, this quickly evaporated as Tesco has provided profit guidance which is nearly 30 percent shy of an already lowered estimate," Hunter said in a note on Tuesday.

"The company partially attributed the lower figure to increased investment in the business, but amidst the accounting mishap, the revolving door in the boardroom and an unforgiving attack from the discount retailers, investors have simply lost interest in waiting for a recovery story which still seems some way off."

Financial black hole

No more shenanigans from Tesco?
No more shenanigans from Tesco?   

Tesco has the biggest market share out of the U.K.'s "big four" supermarket chains, but has been under the spotlight since a financial black hole was discovered in September.

Pretax profit for its first half fell by 91.9 percent to £112 million ($180 million). Last financial year, Tesco's group trading profit came in at $3.3 billion.

The company was forced to scrap its full-year outlook and senior executives have been suspended over the allegations that profits had been overstated by £263 million for the first half of 2014. Meanwhile, an investigation by auditors Deloitte has found that there may have been similar accounting practices in prior reporting periods.

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New CEO Dave Lewis, who arrived from Unilever in July, said Tesco was focused on "doing the right thing for customers".

"We will not engage in short term actions that compromise in any way our offer for customers," he said in Tuesday's statement. "We still have much to do but are making good progress in developing our plans to improve the long-term positioning of the group."

Online share dealer TD Direct Investing said it had seen a 1,000 percent increase in trades of Tesco shares in the first two hours of Tuesday's session, compared with Monday's full day of trades.

"The vast majority of our customers buying the stock are highlighting that they may see the changes as short-term and are hoping for a more positive impact overall," the firm's head of global trading, Darren Hepworth, told CNBC via email.

Meanwhile, City analyst Louise Cooper said she believes that the latest warning may mean that Tesco's profits are "literally disappearing down the drain". She added that Dave Lewis is a "brand man" and not a cost-cutting CEO.

"He is the wrong man for the job," she said in a research note on Tuesday morning. "Management appear to be losing control of this business and don't know what to do."