It appears outspoken JD Wetherspoon (JDW) chairman Tim Martin’s latest rant on Brexit did little to distract investors from the company’s underwhelming performance.

Annual sales and operating profit at the budget-friendly pub chain hit the lower end of analysts’ forecasts after being impacted by the prolonged summer heatwave and nail-biting World Cup.

Initially shares in the company slid 1.5% but are now broadly unmoved at £12.75.

Like-for-like sales jumped 5% and operating profit rose 2.9% to £132.3m in the 12 months to 29 July.

Investors shouldn’t be surprised that Wetherspoon did not fare well during the World Cup as it rarely shows live sports outside of significant events so sports fans may not flock to these pubs first.

People were keen to enjoy the surprisingly hot weather and may choose other pubs over a Wetherspoon pub as relatively few of its premises has a beer garden, says AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould.

'It would be wrong to get too hung up on these short-term factors, and the fact profit reached record levels suggests the company's model is continuing to deliver,' comments Mould.

Martin believes the pub chain had a ‘reasonable start’ to its financial year, but flags that taxes, labour and interest costs are expected to be higher than 2017.

Approximately 4% like-for-like sales is being targeted in a bid to match last year’s record profits.

Over the last year, shares in Wetherspoon have been volatile, but have ultimately been a good bet for investors as the stock has gained 22.7%.


Issue Date: 14 Sep 2018