Shares in Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct have plunged by up to 27% as investors gave their first reaction to financial results — delayed several times in bizarre fashion last week.
The stock fell sharply at the open to levels not seen for eight years before settling around 10% down in early trading on Monday morning.
It was not until after dealing had concluded on Friday that the retailer finally revealed numbers for the year to the end of April after several false starts.
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They showed not only the expected drag that the purchase of House of Fraser (HoF) had proved but also, contained at the bottom of the document, was news of a shock £605m tax demand from authorities in Belgium.
The bad news did not stop there.
Also included was confirmation that finance director John Kempster was joining other key lieutenants of Mr Ashley’s in leaving the business recently.
But crucially, there was no guidance on future performance — except a warning that HoF’s problems threatened group profitability and therefore dividends.
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Market analysts wrote at the time that the handling of the results statement had amounted to a "shambles".
After the initial share price plunge on Monday, chief market analyst at markets.com Neil Wilson wrote: "The situation for Sports Direct is not good, but it’s too early to write off Mr Ashley.
"His mercurial style and talents have always raised eyebrows in the City.
"Whilst there are clearly many doubts about the elevation strategy (creating the ‘Harrods of the high street’), among others, we are in no doubt that Mr Ashley is the master of the stack ‘em high approach.
"Moreover, the fallout from HoF may well clip his wings in terms of making further dilutive acquisitions.
"Chastened, this may be the time we see a renewed focus on the basics."