Domino's Pizza settles investor nerves with sales surge


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Domino's Pizza, Britain's biggest pizza delivery firm, has posted a surge in fourth-quarter sales, steadying the nerves of some investors rattled by management exits and expansion concerns.

Domino's shares have slipped 20 percent in six months after its expansion into Germany suffered higher than anticipated losses and the firm surprised investors last month by saying its boss Lance Batchelor would quit in April to join travel and insurance group Saga.

Domino's said on Wednesday sales at its 670 UK stores open for more than a year rose 10.9 percent in the 13 weeks to Dec. 29, well ahead of analyst forecasts which ranged from 1 to 4 percent, taking underlying sales growth to 7 percent for the full year.

Online sales jumped another 16 percent, with overall trade helped by a marketing push, new products and the more favourable timing of the Christmas break.

The group said it expected full-year profit to be in line with market consensus, which Reuters data shows at 47.91 million pounds, with higher losses in its fledgling German arm negating better than anticipated profit in the UK and Ireland.

Domino's shares were up 1.4 percent to 510p at 0809 GMT.

Batchelor's exit follows that of finance chief Lee Ginsberg and comes as analysts also express concern over the pace of the group's UK store openings, which stood at 50 for the year, taking the total to 77.

In October it had slowed the openings target to 50 from 60, with some analysts now expecting that figure to fall further to 45 for future years, hurting growth forecasts.


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