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By Aastha Agnihotri
Sept 3 (Reuters) - Spirit Pub Company Plc’s like-for-like sales were ahead of the market in the fourth quarter as value-for-money deals attracted more customers to its franchises, boosting its full-year expectations.
Shares in the company, which was split from Punch Taverns Plc in 2011, rose as much as 5 percent, making the stock one of the top percentage gainers on the London Stock Exchange on Wednesday morning.
Spirit Pub, known for its pubs such as Chef & Brewer, Fayre & Square and Flaming Grill, said it expected full-year results to be above market expectations.
Analysts on average expect Spirit Pub’s full-year pretax profit at 57.1 million pounds($94.1 million), on revenue of 790.8 million pounds, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Like-for-like sales rose 2.1 percent at managed pubs in the 12 weeks to Aug. 16, with drink sales outpacing food sales, the company said.
“Any growth that we’ve had has been driven by our own self-help because the market is more or less overall flat in food and may be very slight growth in alcohol,” Chief Executive Mike Tye told Reuters.
The company has been pushing its food menus to attract more customers, driven by UK consumers’ growing appetite for eating out at places with value offers rather than at expensive restaurants.
Spirit Pub, which has over 750 managed pubs, said it acquired 11 pubs into managed division in the fourth quarter and they are expected to generate returns materially ahead of cost of capital.
The managed-pubs business accounts for nearly 90 percent of Spirit Pub’s revenue.
Analysts at Numis Securities said that the “increasing visibility on like-for-like profit growth, high cash returns, faster expansion and net debt reduction (growing cash reserves) should bring the re-rating the company deserves”.
The brokerage has a “buy” rating on the stock with a target price of 110 pence.
Net income at Spirit Pub’s leased estate rose 4.8 percent in the fourth quarter. Leased pubs are tenanted and run by pub-keepers who pay rent and are dependent on the company for their beer supply.
Britain's top managed-pub and restaurant chains witnessed a collective like-for-like sales growth of 2.2 percent in July, according to data collected from 28 of Britain's larger pubs and restaurants by market research company Coffer Peach Business Tracker. (bit.ly/1uRwyNI)
British pub and breweries group Greene King Plc reported a 4.1 percent rise in full-year comparable retail sales in July, helped by newly acquired sites.
Shares in Spirit Pub were up 2.6 percent at 79 pence at 0910 GMT. (1 US dollar = 0.6070 British pound) (Reporting by Aastha Agnihotri in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)