Results out today
JD Wetherspoons shares trade fresh all-time highs after reporting an impressive quarter of like-for-like sales, with +6.0 per cent topping analysts’ estimates and coming virtually in-line with the previous quarter (+6.1 per cent in Q1), despite concerns that adverse weather would impact sales and footfall. The results come just a day after peer Marston’s reported a disappointing fall in LfL sales growth due to icy December weather, which once again places Wetherspoons at the top of the UK pub pecking order, especially after informing investors that YTD underlying pretax profit is ahead of current expectations.
While Chairman Tim Martin once again used a significant portion of his company’s trading update to lambast Brexit doom-and-gloomers, the release also highlighted the fact that achieving ‘similar outperformance in the second half of the year will be more difficult to achieve’. But investors are happy to ignore the small print, cheering a solid set of results in comparison to peers and seemingly confident that the chain can capitalise on consumer sentiment during the holy grail that is a World Cup year. Furthermore, the low cost, no frills pub chain continues to benefit from a perceived change in UK consumer spending, as drinkers move away from higher-cost, higher-end watering holes in order to enjoy creature comforts at much lower expense; the disposal of 10 pubs also highlights management’s ambitions to keep the chain fresh.
Tomorrow, Greene King rings for last orders for UK Pub trading updates. Should Wetherspoons’ rival announce a similar, weather-impacted quarter to Marston’s yesterday, it would likely do even more to bolster Wetherspoon’s position at the top of the market, and could see today’s fresh record highs built upon to extend this morning’s bullish flag breakout.