Carrefour: an annual publication applauded by investors

(AOF) – Carrefour peaks at the top of the CAC 40 index, with its increase of 4.90% to 16.47 euros. The French retail giant, in the green during the last four sessions, is boosted by better than expected free cash flow and the remuneration of its shareholders. If the group reported a current operating profit down 4.7% to 2.264 billion euros in 2023, falling below its forecast and that of analysts, its adjusted net profit group share improved by 7 .6% to 1.659 billion euros.

Its net free cash flow increased from 1.26 billion euros in 2022 to 1.62 billion in 2023. “Rigorous inventory management has propelled net free cash flow up by almost 30%,” underlines Stifel, which reiterates its Buy recommendation on value.

France’s current operating profit also exceeded expectations, increasing by 19% to 988 million euros, a margin of 2.6%, an improvement of 37 basis points.

The group’s annual turnover stood at 94.13 billion euros, up 10.4% on a comparable basis.

A dividend increased by 55%

In Brazil, Carrefour’s second largest market, operating profit amounted to 668 million euros, down 26.9%. The group mainly attributes this decline to the integration of Grupo Big.

The year 2023 was also marked by several acquisitions, notably in France (takeover of 31 ex-Casino stores) and in Spain (47 supermarkets and convenience stores from the El Corte Inglès group).

If JP Morgan describes these results as “mixed”, the American bank welcomes the remuneration of Carrefour shareholders.

The group proposes to pay a dividend of 0.87 euros per share for the past financial year, an amount increasing by 55% compared to the dividend paid for 2022.

It also undertakes to buy back 700 million euros of its own shares this year after 800 million euros in 2023.

“Carrefour is approaching this new year with confidence, and is continuing its trajectory towards the objectives set for 2026,” said Alexandre Bompard, CEO of the group, who will publish its turnover for the first quarter of 2024 on April 24.

“It was confirmed during the conference call that the group’s current operating profit should be up in 2024 (consensus at 2.62 billion euros), with France also expected to rise in absolute value but not in terms of margin,” says Jefferies. The consensus for France currently stands at 987 million euros. For the analyst, the consensus of earnings per share growth of 3% will probably have to be revised upwards.

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