Walmart considers listing its Asda business after its merger deal with rival Sainsbury's was blocked.Read more
Business Presenter, BBC Radio 4 Today programme
Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe was not his usual tiggerish self when presenting this set of results. He gave the impression of someone trying to make the best of a less than ideal outcome – which, of course, he was.
In his ideal world he would have been talking about the final preparations for the merger with Asda, but that was blown out of the water by the Competition and Markets Authority last week.
Instead he was left to describe a fairly mundane set of annual results in glowing terms.
They show a company that is fighting hard on all fronts – trying to compete against aggressive low-price rivals and a resurgent Tesco, while at the same time finding the money to improve its stores, reduce debt and maintain dividend payments to shareholders.
Once you include restructuring costs, a £46m hit on the failed deal with Asda, statutory profits were down one-third to £219m – a tiny number for a company that has annual sales of £32bn.
Sainsbury insiders had warned against expecting a big strategic relaunch, a Plan B, after the Asda failure. Shareholders will still be disappointed that there wasn’t one, and will no doubt be pressing hard on whether – or rather when – it will emerge.
More on Sainsbury's.
John Moore, senior investment manager at Brewin Dolphin, said the figures were robust.
"The business may have lost market share, but it is still performing at a good level, aided by the integration and enhanced offering of Argos – the Asda transaction would have offered the potential to push this to another level.
While there is a commitment to increase and accelerate investment in the business from management, investors will be waiting for more concrete plans in the months ahead to see what Sainsbury’s next step will be," he said.
Sainsbury's shares are the biggest risers the FTSE this morning after better than expected full year underlying profit.
Shares in the supermarket giant are up more than 4.7% to 232.95p. Bear in mind, however, that shares tumbled in February from about 288p after a proposed merger between Sainsbury's and rival Asda was dealt a blow by the competition watchdog.
BBC Radio 4
So is Mike Coupe going to leave as Sainsbury's chief executive after the failed Asda bid?
He tells BBC Radio 4's Today Programme that we will be "talking to me again. I'm sticking with the company. I'm very proud of the organisation I run".
BBC Radio 4
More on Sainsbury's. The cost of the failed Asda deal was £46m.
Mike Coupe, the chief executive, told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme, that they were a good set of results.
Overall sales are down 0.2% although he said they were 1% higher in the supermarkets.
"We draw a line under the past. As you say, the authorities blocked the deal," Mr Coupe told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme.
"We think our business is adapting to the changing world of retail, and we will carrying on investing in our business," he said.
Investment would be made in 400 stores.