Broker highlights: Non-food retailers in focus

Deutsche Bank turned its attention the non-food retail sector and reckons 2017 is likely to be a more challenging year with demand likely to soften.

The broker added: "This is particularly likely in the UK, which remains the most important market for the sector."

Its latest review of the sector has resulted in downgrades for Next (LON:NXT), Debenhams (LON:DEB) and Halfords (LON:HFD), with NXT moving to 'hold' (from 'buy') while DEB and HFD were both cut to 'sell' (from 'hold').

Target prices were also cut in respect of all three stocks.

Analysts highlighted their top picks as being 'buy' rated AB Foods, B&M and Dixons Carphone

Meanwhile, HSBC also commented on the sector and said:

"Christmas 2016 to benefit from resilient demand, but 2017 outlook is more challenging with long-term headwinds."

"Next (Hold) to give first insight into sector trading on 4 January; adverse conditions for clothing retail look set to continue."

Separately, Haitong concluded: "In our view big strategy changes tend to depress earnings delivery for extended periods.

"Accordingly we would expect the group of companies to under-perform subject to various shorter-term variances. We expect to be basing our recommendations on tactical grounds for the foreseeable future."

The broker reaffirmed 'buy' ratings on Next and Marks & Spencer (with fair values of 5,900 pence and 375 pence, respectively) and its 'sell' rating on Kingfisher (fair value 270 pence).

At 1:53pm:

(LON:DEB) Debenhams PLC share price was -1.35p at 55.95p

(LON:HFD) Halfords Group PLC share price was -20.65p at 344.85p

(LON:KGF) Kingfisher PLC share price was -4.95p at 345.35p

(LON:MKS) Marks Spencer Group PLC share price was -7p at 343p

(LON:NXT) Next PLC share price was -187.5p at 4795.5p