Shares in soft drinks giant Britvic (BVIC) bubbled up 4p to 882p as the Robinsons, Tango and London Essence maker served up a near-30% annual profits surge driven by a second half rebound in its out-of-home business as economies reopened.

The FTSE 250 drinks firm also flagged encouraging current trading, with volumes ahead of the comparative periods in full years 2020 and 2021 in the first six weeks of the new financial year.

BROAD-BASED GROWTH

For the year to September 2021, pre-tax profit fizzed up 28.5% to £142.9 million as revenue increased 6.6% to the best part of £1.41 billion, with sales growth led by family favourite brands including Pepsi, Robinsons, Tango and 7UP.

Britvic’s first half performance was impacted by lockdowns and social distancing measures across its markets. While the at-home channel grew strongly, out-of-home sales were hit by the closure of pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels.

However, as Covid restrictions eased in the second half, ‘out-of-home volumes rebounded strongly, while the at-home channel remained robust’, explained Britvic, adding that ‘immediate consumption volumes benefited from increased mobility levels and people holidaying domestically, recovering back to 2019 levels in quarter four.’

TASTY FREE CASH FLOW

Record annual free cash flow generation of £132.7 million enabled a £31.9 million reduction in net debt and in a sign of confidence in its growth prospects and strong balance sheet, Britvic raised the full year dividend by 12% to 24.2p per share.

CEO Simon Litherland commented: ‘This year we have recovered strongly from the effects of the pandemic, with underlying revenue, margin, and profit all in growth.’

Litherland conceded the business faces ‘multiple operational headwinds leading to increased inflation’, yet he is ‘confident we will mitigate them through a combination of our agile and resilient supply chain, revenue management and cost saving actions.

‘In 2022 we anticipate making further progress with revenue, profit and margin ahead of 2021.’

THE EXPERT’S VIEW

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said Britvic ‘struck a confident tone on managing the cost pressures and supply chain issues which are afflicting businesses across the globe and it was notable to see a significant hike in the dividend, albeit from last year’s depressed level.

‘Britvic is getting round these challenges by being smart around pricing, keeping a lid on costs and having an efficient supply chain.’

Mould continued: ‘Investors are likely to find it refreshing if it can deliver further progress on revenue, profit and margins in 2022 as promised.

‘The company is also looking to a future in which plant-based drinks might become more popular as people look to avoid not just meat and dairy but also oils and processed ingredients. The recently acquired Plenish business is set for a big brand relaunch next year.’

READ MORE ON BRITVIC HERE

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Issue Date: 24 Nov 2021