Business

'Shambles' as Sports Direct's results delayed

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Media captionMike Ashley's High Street empire

There is confusion surrounding the release of results from Mike Ashley's Sports Direct, after the firm failed to publish them throughout Friday.

In a statement, Sports Direct said it was "still finalising" the results, and would give a further update at 16:00.

However, that deadline has now passed and the firm's share price has closed down 3.9%.

It is extremely unusual for results to be delayed in this way - one analyst called events "an utter shambles".

The full-year results have already been delayed once - originally they were due to be reported on 18 July.

At the time, Sports Direct blamed the delay on uncertainty over the future trading performance of the House of Fraser chain, which it bought last year, as well as increased scrutiny of its auditor Grant Thornton. It also indicated that it might not achieve its profits forecast.

'Disregard for shareholders'

UK-listed companies normally publish their results at 07:00, before the London markets open at 08:00. Sports Direct had also been due to give a presentation to investors and media at 09:00.

However, after the results failed to arrive, the firm apologised for the delay and for cancelling the presentation at the last minute.

At midday Sports Direct said it would provide an update at 14:00. Shortly after that time, the company issued a statement that said: "We are still finalising our preliminary results and will update you again at 16:00."

Trading on the stock market closed at 16:30 without a further update or sign of Sports Direct's results.

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Neil Wilson, chief market analyst for Markets.com, said the events were "a total and utter shambles" that "betrays a number of problems at the business after [Mr] Ashley embarked on his rather random acquisition spree."

"Above all it betrays a total disregard for shareholders," he said.


Analysis

By Simon Gompertz, BBC personal finance reporter

Unprecedented, bizarre, shambolic - just some of the adjectives being used to describe the non-appearance of Sports Direct's annual results today.

Stockmarket traders have been scratching their heads trying to remember any examples of a company which failed to deliver figures in such an exasperating fashion.

First, a delay of more than a week. Then, today, a series of updates providing no update at all.

The episode has caused concern, along with speculation about whether Sports Direct's auditor, Grant Thornton has continued to have problems approving the numbers.

On the other hand, the shares have weathered the uncertainty better than might have been feared. They are down 3.9%.


Sports Direct shares fell in early trading on the London stock market before recovering.

Guardian journalist Rob Davies tweeted:

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