Marston's shares bubble over as it continues to buck the gloomy pub trend

Courtney Goldsmith
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Marston's toasted strong results (Source: Getty)

Shares at Marston's rose more than 10 per cent today as the pub operator's confidence stood out in a cautious market.

The figures

Marston's full-year underlying revenue jumped 10 per cent to £992.2m while underlying profit before tax rose three per cent to £100.1m.

Average profit per pub was up two per cent, which chief executive Ralph Findlay said was 70 per cent higher than in 2010, despite the competitive backdrop of wider market.

In the period, the company opened 19 pubs and bars and acquired a further nine.

Marston's proposed a final dividend of 4.8p, up 0.1p.

The company's share price rose 10.88 per cent to 116.2p in morning trading.

Read more: Craft beer's boom has led to a renaissance at Marston's traditional pubs

Why it's interesting

Findlay told City AM there was plenty of caution in the market, but that wasn't stopping people from going out. "My personal view is that [caution] is overdone," he said.

Marston's beer business had an "outstanding" year, according to Findlay. The firm acquired Charles Wells Beer Business for £91m this year, adding well-known brands including Young's into its portfolio.

While Findlay is cautious of rising employment and property costs, Marston's has managed to stay ahead of the curve in identifying trends in the eating out market and investing in its pubs.

"Despite the well-publicised cost headwinds and consumer pressures in the pub sector, we expect Marston's to be able to grow profits in FY18 on the basis of its acquisitions of Charles Wells and a tranche of pubs from Whitbread, as well as ongoing organic rollout and a low level of positive like-for-like growth," said Alexander Mees, an analyst at JP Morgan.

What Marston's said

Findlay said:

We have achieved strong revenue growth and higher earnings, despite increasing employment and property costs. Our business has been transformed in recent years with a significant improvement in the quality of both our pub and beer businesses.

While political and economic uncertainty is likely to continue, we remain confident that our proposition founded on providing great customer experiences, the very best service and value for money, leaves Marston's positioned to deliver further growth in the year ahead.

Read more: In London property, microbreweries are the new farmers markets

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