Marks and Spencer became the first UK-based retailer to generate a pre-tax profit of £1 billion+. Plans to open 20 new shops, alongside expected further progress in the performance of its business, has many an equity research analyst speculating whether now might be the time to buy Marks and Spencer shares.
If you are looking to jump on the bandwagon, then look no further than my beginner’s guide for those looking to buy M&S shares in the UK.
Also consider: Which shares to buy now
- Select a trading platform. If you’re struggling to know where to begin with hand-picking an online trading platform, don’t panic. My guide to the UK’s best trading platforms will help you put your best foot forward.
- Create your account. To open and verify your account, you’ll have to upload a government-issued ID and proof of address, as well as your national insurance number and bank details.
- Choose your preferred payment method. Once your broker has verified your identity and your account is active, you can deposit funds using debit cards or bank transfers.
- Search for the stock code on your trading platform. Search for “MKS” in the search bar of your trading platform.
- Research M&S shares information. I cannot overstate the importance of doing your research into the M&S share price before parting with your hard-earned money. Invest time into technical and fundamental analysis before placing your order.
- Now buy your M&S shares. Once you think the time is right to invest, submit your order for M&S shares into the market.
Marks and Spencer Live share price (MKS)
1. Choose the trading platform that suits you best
Before you even begin to research Marks and Spencer and consider an investment, you’ll have to pick a trading platform that ticks the right boxes. My own guide to the UK’s top trading platforms should be your first port of call.
Each trading platform has its quirks. Take some time to note the following to help you with your decision-making:
- Look for trading platforms that charge minimal or no account fees
- Most brokers will charge a commission per trade – look for the most cost-effective platform
- Make sure your chosen trading platform allows you to trade M&S shares and other financial instruments you’re interested in
- Be wary of any trading platform that doesn’t offer technical and fundamental analysis tools
- Ensure your chosen trading platform supports your preferred deposit and withdrawal methods
2. Open the right type of account
Decide how you plan to invest in M&S and other UK-listed equities. If you plan to day trade stocks and scalp short-term price volatility, one of the top share dealing accounts could be a viable option. Keep in mind trading fees and overseas dealing fees, should you decide to trade assets listed overseas.
General Investment Accounts (GIAs) are a broad-based option, with no limits to how much you can invest, although capital gains tax is due on profits over a certain threshold.
Self-invested personal pensions (SIPPs) and Stocks and Shares ISAs may be the most tax-efficient way to gain exposure to M&S shares, as they don’t incur capital gains tax as well as dividend or income tax.
3. Pick the most convenient payment method
Whatever you do, make sure your selected trading account accepts your primary deposit and withdrawal methods. If you’re someone who prefers using e-wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay, make sure these next-gen payment methods are supported.
The standard payment methods include debit cards and bank wire transfers. Credit cards are increasingly being phased out as borrowing should never be used towards high-risk activities like investing and trading.
4. Find M&S shares listed within your trading platform
The most direct route to finding the equity you wish to buy or sell – in this case M&S – is to use the firm’s ticker or EPIC code. Exchange Price Information Codes (EPICs) are also called TIDM codes in the UK. The TIDM code for Marks and Spencer is MKS.
Type ‘MKS’ into your chosen platform’s search functionality and you should be able to bring up the page relating to the short and long-term history of buy and sell prices for M&S shares. This should include the closing price of recent days, ideal for those thinking of day trading.
5. Conduct your own research into Marks and Spencer and the M&S share price
I cannot emphasise enough the importance of researching investment opportunities like M&S yourself. Although it’s useful to lean on the expertise and market knowledge of seasoned investors and traders, it’s vital that you dedicate your time to understanding the dynamics of the equities you wish to invest in. This includes their past performance, even though this isn’t the best indicator of future performance.
How much profit did it make last year? Is its net debt rising or falling? Is consumer spending falling? Those are the kinds of questions to ask yourself.
By all means, make use of the educational sections and features offered by your chosen trading platform, but use your instincts to judge the right entry and exit points.
6. Place your market orders for M&S shares
Only once you’ve completed your research and set the best price to buy shares in M&S can you log in and submit a market order. Set the size of your investment in Marks and Spencer, as well as essential stop-loss and take-profit orders to manage your risk, and your broker will handle the rest.
Thanks to the role of a market maker like a large bank or financial institution, there will always be plenty of liquidity for Marks and Spencer shares.
Marks and Spencer has been a publicly listed company on the London Stock Exchange for generations. However, long-term investors that have continued to hold onto the M&S share price will have seen most if not all of their gains eroded in recent years. In fact, over the last 35 years, M&S shares have posted a 0.90% loss between July 1988 and May 2023.
The Marks and Spencer share price has plunged almost 40% in the last five years. It’s true that the brand has lagged behind some of its key competitors in the same sector, falling behind on contemporary trends and generally appearing as an outdated brand.
However, since the appointment of Stuart Machin as the company’s new CEO in 2022, the brand has undergone an impressive turnaround. Machin has been a strong advocate for delivering an omnichannel retail experience, improving its digital UX, reinvesting in its tired stores and selling its loss-making shops.
Machin has also placed greater emphasis on the M&S Food brand, which has seen its market share reach record-high levels, underpinned by its partnership with Ocado.
The price of M&S shares has therefore recovered strongly in 2023, up more than 32% in the year to date. Trading around the 167.00-168.00 (GBX) mark, M&S share prices are now worth more than it was pre-pandemic at the end of February 2020. It now has a market capitalisation of around £3.3 billion.
See below for the live share price:
Does M&S pay dividends?
Marks and Spencer were forced to cease paying dividends to its shareholders as of January 2020. The ensuing Covid-19 pandemic and the substantial shocks to the UK’s retail sector forced M&S to tighten its collective belt.
Pre-pandemic, Marks and Spencer cultivated a reputation for being a rock-solid dividend payer, with two dividends paid yearly to shareholders.
Looking back at its most recent dividend history, M&S shareholders received a combined dividend of 13.9p per share in 2019 and 18.7p per share in 2018. In 2016, shareholders were treated to a ‘special dividend’ on top of their interim and final dividends of the year, taking it to a total return of 23.3p per share.
Analysts on Marks and Spencer shares believe dividend payments will return this year, as the revenue outlook continues to improve. In 2023, dividend forecasts currently stand at 4.54p per share and 5.41p per share in 2024. These are modest yields historically speaking, but yields nonetheless.
There are several ways to buy shares in M&S or get exposure to the M&S share price, which is one of the UK’s most influential stocks in the retail sector.
For instance, if you’re just starting out on your investment journey and you’d rather not commit much money into stocks and shares from day one, consider buying fractional shares in M&S. Given that Marks and Spencer is one of the UK’s 250 most valuable equities, investing in percentages of a single unit in M&S could be prudent as a first-time investor.
I already mentioned that M&S is listed within the FTSE 250 index. If you’re unsure about going all-in on M&S shares, you could consider diversifying your outright risk on Marks and Spencer by investing in the FTSE 250 instead. This gives you exposure to M&S and dozens more of the UK’s biggest corporations.
Another way to spread your risk on M&S shares is to invest in funds that feature Marks and Spencer within their broader portfolio. Some of the most popular exchange-traded funds (ETFs) featuring Marks and Spencer at present include the iShares STOXX Europe 600 Retail UCITS, the Amundi Prime UK Mid and Small Cap UCITS and the Invesco FTSE All Share ESG Climate UCITS.
The derivatives market is another credible, albeit risky, option to speculate on the Marks and Spencer share price – without having to own the stocks outright.
Contract for difference (CFD) trading and spread betting allow you to take a position on whether the M&S share price will rise or fall. The size of your profit or loss is determined by how much the M&S share price moves from your initial entry point.
The number-one reason why I and many other experts in financial investing warn users of CFD trading is the potential for magnified losses. CFD brokers will allow you to trade with leverage, allowing you to magnify your initial cash position up to 20x.
Although this can multiply potential profits by this figure too, without sufficient risk management, you could incur substantial losses when speculating on equities like Marks and Spencer.
What’s M&S’s ESG track record?
There are many long-term investors that now look to invest solely in equities with a keen eye on their impact on tomorrow’s world.
In the financial industry, we describe this as environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing, focusing on firms with robust corporate policies ensuring responsible and ethical operations. I would place Marks and Spencer at the forefront of the UK’s ESG-focused equities.
Since 2007, when it launched a ground-breaking ‘Plan A’ ESG programme, M&S has taken its sustainability obligations with the utmost seriousness. It aims to become a net zero business by 2040, which has caught the eye of ESG investors.
It is also fully committed to its Global Sourcing Principles which ensure all goods are responsibly sourced from across the globe.