Stock of the Week: WH Smith

UK magazines and pens retailer is now a global presence but travel restrictions have hit its business hard this year

James Gard 10 September, 2020 | 10:45AM
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Stationery and magazines firm WH Smith (SMWH), which traces its heritage back to 1792, has nudged ahead of Microsoft (MSFT) as our stock of the week as voted by our Twitter followers. This week’s poll has a Back to School theme and readers of a certain age will remember the annual pilgrimage to the local WH Smith store to pick up pens and ring binders for the year ahead. The company has expanded significantly in the last few decades and now makes a large portion of its revenues from travel concessions, which include train stations and airports. It now operates in around 31 countries, including China and the United States, where it has more than 200 stores.

The 2020 shutdown has hit these outlets hard and this is fully reflected in the company’s share price, which was £26 at the start of the year and is now around £11, a fall of 58%. WH Smith has estimated that its annual loss for the year ending August 31 will be between £70m-£75m.

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James Gard  is content editor for