If you’d invested in: Tesco and Associated British Foods

If only…

Tesco share price chart

Tesco (LSE: TSCO), the UK’s biggest retailer, has seen its market value rise almost 50% in a year. In April, barely three years after it reported the second largest loss in UK corporate history, it posted pre-tax profits of nearly £1.3bn in the year to the end of February, up from £145m the year before. This came from sales that rose 2.8% to £57.5bn. It also cut net debt by nearly 30% to £2.6bn. The results prompted it to announce a 3p dividend, the first payout in three years. In July, Tesco and its French counterpart Carrefour joined forces to fend off competition from discounters.

Be glad you didn’t…

AB Foods share price chart

Associated British Foods (LSE: ABF) is a clothing as well as a food retailer, as it owns Primark. Last November it reported a 50% rise in pre-tax profits to £1.6bn, which was due to brisk business at Primark, a rebound in sugar profits and a boost from sterling’s weakness. Yet the shares fell after the firm said it would be reducing the size of US Primark stores. This month ABF said profits would be higher than expected as the heatwave has boosted sales at Primark. But ABF also warned of lower annual profits at its sugar business as European sugar prices are currently low.