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Will Marks & Spencer surprise the city on the upside?

This Wednesday sees half-year figures from retail giant Marks & Spencer amid hopes that the UK high street may well have turned the corner. Marks & Spencer shares have risen by around 25% over the last three months with broker upgrades for the full year figures rising from £430 million to £600 million. While the shares have factored in some of the increase in forecast figures, there is a feeling that the company will still surprise on the upside in the short term.

It would appear that two elements have now come into play, which is better control of stock, which has improved profit margins, as well as retaining some of the VAT cut which was brought in by the UK government. While the stock control element is something which can be carried forward indefinitely, the company will obviously lose the benefit of the VAT cut when the rate of VAT returns to normal at the end of the year.

Whether or not the performance of Marks & Spencer has been replicated across the high street is open to debate, but the company has performed better than most over the last few months due to a mixture of cost control and stock control. Will the city now welcome Stuart Rose with open arms?

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