The first rule of being listed is: don’t disappoint the market. Shoprite bulls must be ruing their holdings in the supermarket giant after the release of its year-end results. These undershot even the lowest profit expectations and its shares dropped below R200 earlier this week, their weakest since November 2017. It’s down 19% over the past six months. Presenting Shoprite’s first earnings decline in 18 years, CEO Pieter Engelbrecht said: "In my memory it’s the toughest [year] that I can recall, but we’re not going to stand here today and ramble on with a lot of excuses." On a cursory view, the retailer looks almost ex-growth: turnover for the year to the end of June was up only 3.1% to R145.3bn; trading profit fell 1.4% to R8bn; earnings dropped 3.8%; and the grocer cut its dividend by almost 14%, to 279c a share, for the second half. But Engelbrecht is adamant that "if you’re growing customers and volume and market share you certainly can’t be ex-growth. We’ve still got a lot up o...

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