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Wetherspoons (JD) plc JDW is paying a maintained dividend of 4p per share for the six months to the 27th January. Despite a rise of 7.1% in revenue and 6.3% in like for like sales, profit before tax fell by 18.9% and earnings per share by 18.2%. Chairman Tim Martin, as can be expected, lambasts the establishment for a producing a barrage of negative economic forecasts predicting that the UK will go to hell in a handcart without a ‘deal’ with the EU. The great link in economics is that between democracy and prosperity. The fact that the EU is becoming less and less democratic does not bode well for its future prosperity. This winters excellent weather has been a shot in the arm for the brewers and in the six weeks to the 10th March, like-for-like sales have increased by 9.6% and total sales by 10.9%. Costs in the second half of the year will be higher than those in the same period last year and an unchanged trading outcome for the current financial year.is anticipated.
Restaurant Group plc RTN made significant progress in 2018, A record number of new sites were opened in both the Pubs and Concessions businesses, and achieving improved like-for-like sales in the Leisure business throughout the year. Wagamama which was acquired during the year proved to be a high growth business. Like for like sales for the year to the 30th December fell by 2% whilst total sales rose by 1% and current trading for the 10 weeks to the 10th March showed a rise 2.8%. The final dividend of 1.47p is in line with the boards current policy.
Symphony Environmental plc SYM is pleased with its preliminary results for the year to the 31st December with the CEO claiming that it demonstrates positive momentum on many different fronts. Ten governments have mandated that certain plastic products must contain oxo-biodegradable additives A further nine countries have introduced positive regulation for all types of bio-degradable packaging, regulatory moves which are beneficial to the Group’s business. Reported profit before tax fell to £0.04 million from £0.43 million in 2017 and basic earnings per share from 0.28p to 0.03p.
Buy Restaurant Group #RTN says Vectorvest. A clear investment case given the growth in earnings and free cash flow.
London based Restaurant Group (RTN.L) currently operates 498 restaurants and pub restaurants throughout the UK. Its principal trading brands are Frankie & Benny’s, Chiquito, Coast to Coast and Brunning & Price. It also operates a multi-brand Concessions business, which trades principally in UK airports.
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On March 7th2018, RTN reported final results for the year ending December 31st2017. The Company said that the cost reduction programme of £10m had delivered ahead of plan and was being reinvested into the leisure business. Total sales fell 1.8% on a 52 week comparable basis, and an exceptional pre-tax charge of £13.2m saw adjusted EBITDA fall to £95.1m (2016: £121.0m). However RTN saw continued strong free cash flow rise to £84.9m (2016: £78.9m), with net bank debt falling to £21.6m at year-end (2016: £28.3m). CEO Andy McCue said: “As expected, 2017 was a transitional year for the Group, with significant investments made in price and proposition within our Leisure business, which is driving improving volume momentum. We start 2018 with a significantly more competitive offering in our Leisure business, a strengthened pipeline of growth opportunities in both our Pubs and Concessions businesses, and a leaner, faster and more focused organisation.”
The GRT (Earnings Growth Rate) is a key VectorVest metric that frequently flags up a change in fortunes, often before any official announcement from the company itself. The GRT for RTN moved into positive territory during January 2018, and has continued climbing higher all the way through to today’s GRT rating of 19%, which VectorVest considers to be very good. Although the RS (Relative Safety) metric only registers a fair rating of 0.97 (scale of 0.00 to 2.00), at 279p RTN trades well below the current VectorVest valuation of 342p per share.
The chart of RTN.L is shown above in my normal format. Earnings per share (EPS) has doubled over the past year and the share has moved from overvalued to undervalued in this period. Technically the share has broken out of a downsloping channel and also charted a double bottom on a much longer term view (not shown). The share is on a VectorVest buy signal.
Summary: A well-run restaurant business can be a real cash cow, and in the case of RTN the costs savings and operational streamlining from the management team during 2017 really do seem now to be delivering results. Although the fair RS rating tends to push RTN into the domain of the more adventurous investor, given the growth in the rate of earnings and free cash flow, VectorVest believes a clear investment case now exists for this London based group. Buy.
Dr David Paul
April 18th 2018
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Jimmy Choo CHOO With profit before tax for the half year to 30th June rising by 174.2% to £18.1m, Jimmy Choo is delighted with itself both for its performance and for the excellent strategic progress made by its management. Revenue growth was ahead of the market at 16.5%, or 4.5% on a constant currency basis. Like for like retail sales rose by 3.5% across all regions. Earnings per share were up by 140% and EBIT by 24.5%. Its platform is also exciting it with its two iconic brands aiming to achieve global leadership in luxury retail.
Ladbroke Coral LCL Group revenue in the half year to the 30th June rose by 1%, EBITDA was flat, basic earnings per hare halved from 2p to 1p and reported profit after tax was slightly down. In celebration of these mundane statistics which Ladbroke claims represent good operational and financial progress the interim dividend is being doubled from 1p to 2p per share. The second half is being looked forward to with confidence and will produce £45m of synergies which by 2019 are expected to be more than double the original estimate of £150m
Hays plc HAS is celebrating a milestone year which saw it produce record levels of fees and profits enabling shareholders to be rewarded with payment of a special dividend of 4.25p per share plus an 11% increase in the ‘core’ dividend. The total dividend payout for the year to 30th June has more than doubled from £41.7m for 2016 to this years £108m. Profit before tax rose by 18% and basic earnings per share by 14%
Churchill China CHH has maintained its record of improved performance over several years and is increasing its interim dividend for the six months to the 30th June, by 17% after a rise of 30% in profit before tax. Basic earnings per share rose by 32%. Further improvements are continuing into the all important second half.
Restaurant Group RTN is maintaining its interim divided for the half year to the 2nd Jule and current trading is in line with expectations. Half year like for like sales were down 2.2% and on a statutory basis total sales fell by 7.1%. Adjusted earnings per share were down from 14.3p to 10p and profit before tax fell from £36.6m to £25.5m
W.H. Smith SMWH claims a strong performance across the group for the 21 weeks to 21st January, presumably hoping that nobody will go as far as reading the actual figures which show that High Street revenue actually fell by 4% and only travel revenue with a 10% increase, saved the day enabling Smiths to show a like for like sales increase of 1% and a total increase of 2%. As a result of the success of the travel division, the group expects that profit growth for the group as a whole will be slightly ahead of plan.
Restaurant Group RTN admits to a catalogue of management failures which led to a fall of 5.9% in 4th quarter trading which continued to be challenging and compares badly with a decline of 3.9% over the 53 weeks to1st January. The decline is to be countered by improving its proposition and its operating processes, building a better business and delivering an attentive and engaging service, One can only hope that the people who failed to cope with the problems in 2016 will be able to deal with them in 2017, The first half of which is expected to be difficult and no improvement showing until towards the end of the year.
Koovs KOOV is enjoying another year of excellent growth with sales for the 9 months to 31st December showing a rise of 101% and traffic, registered users and social media all up by 100%. The success of its premium party dress collection which sold out in record time, 59% of it within three days of launch has left the company excited about prospects for 2017
McCarthy & Stone MCS saw legal completions for the 20 weeks to the 20th January fall by 2% compared to the previous year as a result of a lower forward order book and a slight slowing in sales momentum since results were announced on the 15th November. Year to date reservations are currently running ahead and are expected to bring in an extra 5% revenue, due to price increases. Profit before tax for 2017 will be more than usually weighted towards the second half.
Staffline Group STAF is increasing its final dividend by 29% after a year of strong organic growth which saw a rise in revenue of 26%. Underlying profit before tax rose by 30% and undiluted earnings per share by 23%. The company’s success means that it has increased its market share “more than ever”.
Royal Bank of Scotland Group RBS adds to this weeks banking woes with fairly disastrous 1st quarter results, raising the question as to whether bankers really are fit for purpose when it comes to running banks.
Firstly RBS does not know why it has lost the battle to divest itself of Williams & Glyn by December 2017, so it is going to carry out a further analysis to try and find out what to do about it. Seems to be a fairly serious example of incompetent management but, being a bank, there are no signs of heads rolling – at least yet.
The first quarter loss jumped to £968m, nearly double that of quarter 1 2015. Adjusted operating profit for the quarter fell by some two thirds to £440m and an impairment charge of £196m has had to be allowed on its shipping portfolio. RBS is however pursuing its plan to become a fair bank, which is an admission that it wasn’t and still isn’t.
International Airline Group IAG is moderating its short term growth plans following the impact of the Brussels terrorist attack which has continued into the second quarter and been added to by a softness in premium demand.
Profit after tax for the 3 months to 31st March came in at 104m Euro compared to last years loss of 26m. and last years basic loss per share of 1.5 cents was transformed into basic earnings of 4.9%. Passenger unit revenue fell by 3.5% and fuel unit costs were down 23.4% after the collapse in fuel prices.
Restaurant Group RTN The Chief Financial Officer is leaving with immediate effect after 11 years service and following further deterioration since the preliminary results were published on the 9th March. The unplanned departure means that the search for a successor has only just started. Like for like sales have fallen by a further 2.7% with full year like for like sales expected to be down by as much as 5% , without any signs of an improvement.