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DSGI Warns on Profit, Next 'Cautious'

Pan-European electrical goods retailer DSG International said on Thursday its annual profits would miss analysts' expectations by as much as 50 million pounds ($99 million) after poor Christmas trading.

The group, whose store chains include Currys and PC World in Britain, UniEuro in Italy and Elkjop in Nordic countries, said like-for-like sales fell 1 percent in the 11 weeks to Dec. 29, hit by an 11 percent drop in sales of computing goods and weak performances in Britain, Italy and Spain.

"This weaker trading, together with a more cautious outlook for the balance of the year, means that we now expect full year profits before tax to be some 40 million to 50 million pounds lower than current expectations," it said in a trading update.

Next Profit to Beat Expectations, but Outlook Extremely Cautious

British clothing retailer Next said on Thursday it expected its full-year profits to be slightly ahead of market expectations but warned the outlook for next year remained extremely cautious.

Next attributed its outlook for the year ahead to increasing demands on consumers' finances.

"Many will experience year-on-year increases in mortgage charges for much of the coming year as a result of favourable fixed-rate mortgage terms expiring," the retailer added.

Shares in some High Street clothing retailers like Next and Debenhams saw big losses in the run-up to Christmas on expectations shoppers would spend less on discretionary items in the face of higher mortgage rates and weaker housing markets.

While UK interest rates were cut a quarter-point last month, that had only come after five such rises since August 2006.

Next said it expected full-year pretax profit to be in the region of 492-502 million pounds ($976.6-$996.4 million), just ahead of market expectations.

Next had been expected to report pretax profit of around 489.2 million pounds according to the average of 24 analysts polled by Reuters Estimates, up from 478.4 million last year.

Next, which trades from more than 480 stores, said retail like-for-like sales fell 3.1 percent in the period July 30 to Dec. 24 -- this compared with a decline of 2.9 percent in the first 14 weeks of the second half.

In a trading update in early November, Next had said while the outlook remained uncertain as customers grapple with higher debt costs, it was keeping its guidance for retail like-for-like sales falling by 1 percent to 3.5 percent in the second half.

Sales at the Directory catalogue and online business, which has more than 2 million active customers, climbed 2.2 percent in the period.

In its November trading update, Next said Directory sales had risen 1.2 percent in the 14-week period and it changed its guidance for the second half to flat to up 2 percent from down 2
percent to up 2 percent previously.