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Tesco Drops Most Since June After JPMorgan Cuts to Underweight

Tesco Plc (TSCO), the U.K.’s largest retailer, fell the most in more than three months as JPMorgan Cazenove cut the stock to underweight a week after being dropped as the supermarket company’s co-brokerage adviser.

The shares fell as much as 3 percent to 362.65 pence, the steepest intraday drop since June 20, as JPMorgan analysts said the emergence of German discounters Aldi and Lidl may cause Tesco to go “through a painful rebasing of pricing and the gross margin, synonymous to a profit warning.”

Tesco is struggling to maintain its dominant 30 percent market share as consumers defect to discounters, upscale chains such as Waitrose and the Internet. The grocer’s market share fell to 30.2 percent in the 12 weeks ended Sept. 16 from 30.9 percent a year earlier, Kantar Worldpanel said yesterday. Tesco is scheduled to report first-half earnings Oct. 2.

Aldi and Lidl are disrupting a price and range architecture that the U.K.’s four biggest supermarkets used for two decades, JPMorgan (JPM) analysts said in a report. That is “of most concern to Tesco because its prices and ranges are margin driven.”

Tesco dropped JPMorgan Cazenove and Nomura as brokerage advisers last week and said it appointed Barclays to work alongside Deutsche Bank in the role.

Nomura’s new food retail analyst David Payne started his coverage of Tesco with a neutral recommendation last week. His predecessor Nick Coulter recommended buying the stock before leaving this year to join Tesco’s investor relations team.

Tesco traded at 363.3 pence as of 9:10 a.m. in London, down 2.9 percent from yesterday’s close.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gabi Thesing in London at gthesing@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Celeste Perri at cperri@bloomberg.net

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