Travel food outlet operator SSP (SSPG) ticked up 1.2% to 236p as the company revealed it generated free cash flow in the second half of its financial year running to 30 September.

The company, which operates the Upper Crust and Ritazza franchises as well as running sites for third parties like Burger King and Starbucks in airports and train stations, reported revenue at the beginning of the current financial year was averaging around two thirds of 2019 levels.

However, even after today’s rise the company’s shares still trade at less than half the level they did before the pandemic and are down 13.4% in the last month as the Omicron variant led to renewed travel restrictions.

The company posted a 41.8% fall in full year revenue to £834.2 million, with that total down 70.1% on 2019 levels.

NARROWED LOSSES

The pre-tax loss narrowed slightly from £425.8 million in 2020 to £411.2 million in 2021. Significantly though, net debt was down from more than £2 billion to £1.48 billion. This was supported by a £475 million rights issue in April.

The company also reported free cash flow of £82.8 million in the second half compared with an outflow of £140.9 million in the first half. A little more than 70% of the estate has now reopened.

Shore Capital analyst Greg Johnson said: ‘Following the pre-close update in September, we revised our FY22F estimates to reflect a more cautious recovery in passenger volumes, notably in H1.

‘Our FY22F revenue estimate of £1.9 billion equates to c67% of FY19A levels, with the recovery H2 weighted… We keep these estimates unchanged despite the stronger bounce back in travel in recent weeks, noting the risk to travel restrictions from the Omicron variant, especially in H1.’

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Issue Date: 08 Dec 2021