It’s been a painful time for those who bet on Woolworths two years ago as they have seen its share price slide more than 40%. For investors who opted to back Shoprite, it has been a different story. Their confidence has been rewarded by a 60% rise in the retail giant’s share price over the past two years. While this huge divergence in share-price performances is unlikely to be repeated over the next two years, Shoprite still appears to be the share to back and Woolworths, which faces multiple challenges in SA and Australia, the share to avoid. In the 53 weeks to July 2 Shoprite romped home with headline EPS (HEPS) up 16.1% on a 52-week basis.Woolworths, in its worst showing in a decade, limped in with HEPS in the 52 weeks to June 25 down 7.6%. HEPS fell 5.5% short of the minimum hurdle set for executives to receive incentive payments. In SA, Woolworths scraped home with profit before tax (PBT) up a marginal R24m to R4.4bn. It came thanks to a commendable 8.3% rise in its food divisi...

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