LONDON (SHARECAST) - UBS has added Home Retail to its list of top picks in the UK retail sector, a category which has held up well in recent months.
"Since our last sector update in February the sector has performed well vs the local market – despite the weather – with disposable income and intake margins recovering in line with our expectations. Although recent increases in petrol prices, utility costs, and possibly food prices may take the edge off the expected recovery in 2013, we think the trend is likely to remain positive," the broker said.
Nevertheless UBS said that it's "still early in the cycle" and upcoming results will likely be mixed: good growth is expected from Next and Dunelm but declines are expected at Kingfisher, Home Retail and Marks & Spencer.
However, the broker reckons that if Home Retail's Argos brand can produce broadly stable like-for-like sales again in the second quarter, its long-term sale decline will look "more cyclical than structural".
"If so, the consensus view that the operating companies have no value (net cash + debtor book = share price) will look misplaced." The broker has upgraded its rating for Home Retail from 'neutral' to 'buy' and lifted its target price for the stock from 90p to 115p.
"In-line with our positive stance on the sector we retain 'buy' ratings on Kingfisher, Next and M&S and add Home Retail. Our 'buy' ratings on M&S and Home Retail are generally anti-consensus and would benefit both from a further recovery in the UK consumer as well as their own self-help programmes."
By 11:15 on Wednesday, Home Retail was trading 2.2% higher at 97.61p.