Analyst puts M&B in minds of investors

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Influential City analyst Geof Collyer has claimed Mitchells & Butlers shares are now worth buying as it applies its muscle in the wake of...

Influential City analyst Geof Collyer has claimed Mitchells & Butlers shares are now worth buying as it applies its muscle in the wake of demerging from Six Continents in April 2003. Collyer said: "With a powerful array of pub food brands, M&B has probably the best invested managed pub estate in the UK. "It is just beginning to exploit some of its potential by acting like a proper retailer. We have upgraded M&B from hold to a buy. This is supported by overwhelming evidence regarding improvements in both operational and financial performance. In short, the sleeping giant has awoken and looks to be on track to deliver at long last." Collyer cited the "benefits" to the company of exercising its market muscle now that it is almost freed of the shackles of its beer supply contracts. He added: "We have about half of this in our forecasts, but believe there is more to come from mix improvement as well." By contrast, Collyer has moved his recommendation on JD Wetherspoon from hold to sell. He said: "The profit downgrades over the past year or so have eroded Wetherspoon's perennial trump card ­ its cash-flow yield premium versus its peers. "It is now almost entirely eroded ­ this is one of the main reasons why we have turned sellers." l Mitchells & Butlers chief executive Tim Clarke has claimed the company has opened up a 10% price gap on its rivals after dropping its prices in the past year. Referring to the thinking behind the move, Clarke told The Observer: "Consumer price sensitivity in this market has increased, as it has in other retail markets. "The gap in price between the off-trade, predominantly supermarkets, and the on-trade, has widened to where it has become a factor in the consumer decision whether to drink in pubs or in the home.

Related topics: Mitchells & Butlers

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