Travel Business Helps WH Smith Profit


British bookseller and stationer WH Smith reported full-year profits ahead of market forecasts on Thursday and said it expected the key Christmas trading season t o be very competitive.

Pretax profit before exceptional items was 61 million pounds ($124.6 million) for the year to Aug. 31, up 29% from last year's 51 million, on revenue down 3% at 1.299 billion.

According to Reuters Estimates, the group had been expected by analysts to report profit of around 62.6 million pounds, within a range of 59.0 million to 64.2 million, with revenue seen about 1.28 billion.

"We have delivered another year of strong profit performance ... Our Travel business grew strongly, and our High Street business made further progress in line with its plan," Chief Executive Kate Swann said in the results statement.

"In an uncertain consumer environment, we expect the key Christmas season to be very competitive, however we have planned accordingly," she added.

The company did not give an update on current trading, saying an interim management statement on Nov. 15 will cover the period from Sept. 1 to Nov. 10.

In August, the retailer said it expected its annual results to be towards the top end of analysts' forecasts, helped by a good performance from its shops at train stations and airports.

WH Smith had also said in August its high street shops would deliver a solid performance, underpinned by tight cost controls.

The retailer proposed a final dividend of 8.1 pence, making a total payout of 11.8%, up 27% on last year.

WH Smith shares, which have outperformed the UK retail sector by more than 22% so far this year, closed at 420 pence on Wednesday, valuing the company at around 768.4 million pounds.