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WM Morrison Supermarkets PLC - Full Year Results on Wednesday 13th March

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Managing Working Capital; it depends upon the type of retail business? Geraldine Grosch. Investors feel that at a high level, the overall definitions provided by the three main listed supermarkets are prima facie, similar. However, they remain unclear as to whether retailers operate and account for the income in a consistent way. Investors consider that a clear definition of commercial income if adopted across the industry would be helpful.

Lack of consistency in description and calculation of metrics is not just an issue that investors attach to commercial income. Many note inconsistencies across retail, focusing on definitions of key Non-GAAP measures such as like-for-like or same store sales and margins. Investors consider that the potential lack of consistency across such measures reduce comparability and therefore usefulness of disclosure. This is especially pertinent when considering trends which are impacting the UK supermarket sector, such as the move to internet shopping which impacts like-for-like sales.

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Notwithstanding the call by some for greater consistency of definitions, many investors note that the significant differences in the structure, focus and operations of the listed supermarkets would potentially make any standard-defined metrics difficult to be truly comparable.

There is also a concern expressed by some that standard metrics potentially lead to a loss of company specific trend information. It should be noted, recent changes to reporting guidance see box may provide investors with additional useful information in this area. The Guidelines apply to relevant communications released on or after 3 July by issuers of securities on a regulated market and to preparers of prospectuses. Investors consider it to be positive that Morrisons decided to disclose details regarding commercial income.

Investors consider that the above disclosure objectives might be a useful set of considerations for all companies when dealing with an emergent disclosure issue. We use these objectives as a way of exploring each of the disclosures in detail. Investors appreciate the approach to disclosure of a headline number upfront with more detailed disclosure within the remainder of the report. The additional disclosure is also flagged in the Audit Committee report. By detailing at a high level the nature of commercial income, key areas of judgement and the overall magnitude, the disclosure serves to provide investors with a concise understanding of the issue.

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  • Morrisons provided a description of commercial income in the accounting policies and in the Audit Committee report. Whilst recognising the possible lack of consistency of categories across the industry investors consider that providing a description of the nature and characteristics of each type of income is helpful.

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    It enhances their understanding and provides context for their consideration of the strength of the control environment. The second objective for Morrisons was to provide detail of the magnitude and impact of commercial income. Morrisons chose to provide disclosures of the magnitude of commercial income as a component of overall performance and details of the material debtor and creditor balances. Disclosure included narrative and numerical elements.

    Investors considered that by providing the income number and comparator for commercial income Morrisons helped to quickly answer unambiguously their questions about the overall magnitude of commercial income. Investors considered that by maintaining the level of disclosure Morrisons would provide valuable trend information of its own business facilitating a better understanding of commercial income stream and its run off across the cycle.

    Some investors also considered that commercial income numbers might provide some context to the components of cost of goods sold and margins an area in which they considered the sector could improve transparency. Opinions were divided on the need for the information going forward: some felt that removal of the information would be a backward step for transparency, others felt that the information had served its purpose and therefore could be removed. Detailed numbers provide somewhat of a proxy for how a company is operating with suppliers and supports management commentary on the approach to commercial income.

    While the income statement disclosures are deemed helpful, many investors feel that the disclosures of the relevant debtor and creditor numbers combined are the most useful element of disclosure. Debtor and creditor disclosure deals directly with the major concerns of investors, namely the risk with commercial income being subject to accelerated recognition as was the case with Tesco , rather than its ultimate size. One investor particularly highlights valuable disclosure that the company makes around the run-off of the debtor balance post year end see page 12 noting that this provides some indication of recoverability.

    As well as providing disclosures in the annual report, Morrisons also provides the same numerical disclosures in the interim report. Views on having the information in the interim is mixed: some feel that annual disclosure is sufficient, others consider that having half-year is helpful when looking to understand trends, timing and conversion of commercial income assets into cash.

    Supporting the numerical and narrative disclosures describing commercial income and its magnitude, Morrisons and its auditors provide disclosures which:.

    The overall concern for investors from commercial income is that it has been subject to management manipulation: acceleration of recognition leading to overstated profits. Investors consider that the Morrisons disclosure on controls, by focusing on the controls around recording and recognition of commercial income, provide comfort to allay their potential concerns.

    The location of the disclosures on controls being within the Audit Committee report aids investor review by being prominent and provides context for the wider Audit Committee report. Investors consider that while helpful in the first year they would not expect to see the same level of detail in following years. If the control environment or processes change significantly, however, then investors expect that this is highlighted prominently in the annual report.

    For the second year of disclosure, Morrisons reduced the description of the controls. There is an assumption from investors that the Audit Committee AC by its very nature focuses on the most significant and challenging areas. Where a potentially large industry issue such as commercial income comes to the fore, investors expect that it will be addressed in the AC report and the report will reflect work undertaken to address the issue.

    Investors consider that this is wholly appropriate given that commercial income is now a known quantity. Similar to AC report, investors would not necessarily expect to see as much detail going forward unless it was a very significant focus of the audit. Among other aspects of AC reports this considered what investors wanted from Audit Committees in relation to significant financial statement reporting issues.

    The way that a company interacts with its supply chain is often identified as being a source of competitive advantage. However, it is also an area in which the level and nature of disclosure made in annual reports are variable in quality and depth. Morrisons consider that relationships with suppliers are an important element of their business model.

    One investor identifies supplier relationships as the key driver of competitive advantage for those in the retail sector, through pricing and access to innovative products. They consider that a longer-term holistic relationship between a company and its suppliers improves the quality and innovation of products on offer, which ultimately is in the best interest of customers and shareholders. Investors express a mix of views on the value of supplier relationship disclosures.

    Wm Morrison Supermarkets - Interim Results - Proactiveinvestors (UK)

    Some investors consider disclosures on supplier relationships as always useful. However, many investors do not value the current level of supplier relationship disclosures either of Morrisons or the sector more widely within the annual report. Those who question the value of disclosure do so as a reflection of the complexity of relationships between a company and its suppliers. They consider that disclosures within the annual report could never be detailed enough to provide a full and comprehensive understanding.

    One investor notes that when companies across the sector discuss supplier relationships, it is in economic terms. It is often described as an opportunity to reduce costs, but this is not always in the interests of shareholders in the long-run. They feel that there is an opportunity for companies to reframe the discussion by providing a clearer link from the discussion of supplier relationships to other parts of the Annual Report and Accounts AR such as strategy, business model, and key risks.

    There is a feeling from many investors that much of the most valuable information about relationships comes not from disclosures in the AR but from other information sources e. However, disclosures in the AR are viewed as corroborating of those other sources of information and therefore have a confirmatory value. Average Review. Write a Review. Related Searches. View Product. Biographienanalyse zu Bettina von Arnim. Studienarbeit aus dem Jahr im Fachbereich Geschichte Europa - and.

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