Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Pubs Poised to Tally Up Their World Cup Score; MARKET REPORT

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Pubs Poised to Tally Up Their World Cup Score; MARKET REPORT

Article excerpt


THE impact of the World Cup on boozers and gamblers will become clearer thisweek with yearend trading statements from Luminar, Regent Inns and JD Wetherspoon while casino operator Stanley Leisure will unveil full-year results on Thursday.

Mark Brumby of Oriel Securities reckons Luminar's trader could make pretty grim reading. He notes that a combination of hot weather, football and later licensing means clubbers are heading to its nightclubs "later and drunker".

With trading under pressure, investors may well be forced to accept low prices for assets it has up for sale, but Brumby suggests Mintgate Investments might launch a new bid, so the shares should probably not decline too badly.

He thinks Regent Inns, which owns the Walkabout chain, will have performed well over the World Cup, but longer licensing hours will have beefed up Regent's competitors and the hot weather may not have helped sales.

JD Wetherspoon allowed TV screens for this tournament, in contrast to 2002, so the impact of the football on sales is likely to be positive. Brumby also notes that all the pub companies will be comparing performance against last July, which was adversely affected by the 7/7 bombings. He points out that Wetherspoon, with 100 pubs in the London area, will be most flattered by the latest results.

Stanley Leisure will be expected to update investors on its [pounds sterling]700 million merger with London Clubs International alongside full-year results on Thursday. The merger is expected to be on the basis of one new Stanley share for every six London club shares, reflecting the two companies' market capitalisations in recent months.

HSBC recently upgraded Stanley to overweight from neutral on valuation grounds with a price target of 808p. It sees room for improvement to the share price by as much as 26% and is generally in favour of a merger. …

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