- First half sales and profit beat
- Like-for-like sales jump 12.7%
- Dividend up 42%, £1 million buyback announced
Premium pubs and hotels group Fuller, Smith & Turner (FSTA) gave investors some early festive cheer on Wednesday after delivering better than expected half year results and hiking the dividend by 42%.
Investors welcomed the news, bidding the shares up almost 7% to a new 12-month high of 611p.
Revenue for the 26 weeks to 30 September increased 12% year-on-year to £188.8 million driven by a market beating 12.7% jump in like-for-like sales growth.
Growth was broad-based with food sales up 15.5%, drink sales up 10.9% and accommodation sales climbing 13.4%. Adjusted pre-tax profit jumped 48% to £15.5 million with the company highlighting ‘strong’ profit conversion.
WHAT DID THE COMPANY SAY?
Chief executive Simon Emeny commented: ‘We have had a strong start to the year - delivering excellent financial results and building a superb platform for future growth.
‘We have continued with our strong progress since the period end, with like-for-like sales for the first 32 weeks of the year growing by 11.7%.
‘Trading in the City continues to grow and although we cannot rule out further tube or train strikes, we are looking forward to a good Christmas with bookings currently 11% ahead of last year.’
The company completed a share buyback of one million ‘A’ shares at an average price of 580p in the half and announced its intention to buyback a further one million shares.
Emeny told Shares that the board considers share buybacks as a sensible use of cash flow given the shares trade at a big discount to the group’s estimated £14 per share of net asset value.
Net debt at the period end was £129.4 million, roughly unchanged on the prior year after the company invested £9 million on the estate, paid a £6 million dividend, and spent £3.5 million on share buybacks.
Numis upgraded its 2023 EPS (earnings per share) forecast by 4% to 24.8p, but the broker said it will revisit its estimates in January given the importance of Christmas trading.
‘In our view Fuller's combines one of the highest quality UK pub estates with turnaround potential. Achieving an economic return on the circa £1 billion revalued asset base presents an opportunity which should unlock the material discount to adjusted NAV in due course.’
Liberum said it believes there is scope for roughly a £1 million to £2 million increase in consensus 2023 pre-tax profit estimates which currently sit at £19.6 million.
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