JD Sports Is the U.K.’s Best-Performing Stock of the Century

(Bloomberg) -- At a time when Britain’s shopping streets are getting emptier, it’s perhaps surprising that the FTSE All-Share’s best-performing stock since the turn of the century is a humble sneaker seller.

JD Sports Fashion Plc shares have risen by 7,444 percent since Jan. 1, 2000, hitting a record on Tuesday after the retailer reported profit ahead of expectations. The stock is by far the best performer on the FTSE All-Share Index over that period, with second-placed Diploma Plc, a building components and seals maker, having returned a comparatively measly 4,200 percent. Bookmaker Paddy Power Betfair Plc is in third, up about 3,800 percent.

JD Sports Is the U.K.’s Best-Performing Stock of the Century

JD’s growth is in contrast with the U.K. retail sector’s struggles. Sales in the financial year just ended were 4.72 billion pounds ($6.2 billion), the company said Tuesday, up from about 171 million pounds in 2000. That’s been mirrored by its market value, now clearly above 5 billion pounds compared with about 60 million pounds at the turn of the century.

The retailer’s winning formula has been based around stocking exclusive ranges from the likes of Adidas AG and Nike Inc., enabling it to attract growing numbers of fashion-savvy customers. It’s now extending the formula to the rest of the world, adding stores from Spain to Australia, while acquiring Finish Line Inc. in the U.S. last year.

“Despite the challenging conditions on the high street, retailers who continue to thrive are those that have embraced change, invested in digital and listened to their customers to keep products fresh and desirable,” Richard Lim, Chief Executive at consultancy Retail Economics wrote in a report.

Impressive

“It’s hard to think of such an impressive showing anywhere else in retail,” Peel Hunt analyst Jonathan Pritchard said in a note. He described the firm’s sales and profit growth as “stellar,” and sees no reason why it shouldn’t continue.

Shore Capital analysts Greg Lawless and Clive Black also think there’s more to come, saying the acquisition of Finish Line adds international growth potential to the equity story. This means the shares remain attractive despite the rising multiples and deserve to trade at a premium to peers, they wrote.

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