Langton Capital – 2016-08-02 – SAB Miller, Heineken, Brexit pessimism & other:
A Day in the Life:
Langton, currently ensconced in the US, has now arrived in Santa Fe. Perfect weather, beautiful countryside & art (of some description) on every street corner. Plenty of bars & restaurants, too. Bit of research going on.
Anyway, a shortened email – with perhaps some delay – will be going out for a little while. On to the news:
PUB, RESTAURANT & DRINKS PRODUCERS:
• The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is consulting on its proposal to introduce specific approval across dining establishments for the production of rare or less than thoroughly cooked meat. Restaurants will have to take all reasonable steps have been taken to protect consumers.
• A number of trade organisations have written to the new business secretary urging caution over planned increases in the National Living Wage over the next four years. Greg Clark is being advised that he should create a new steering group to allow businesses to put forward their concerns.
• AB InBev and SAB Miller have suggested that their deal should now complete over the next two months.
• Texas Roadhouse has reported Q2 and H1 results. Q2 revenues came in t $509m (vs $455m) and net income was $33.6m (2015: $21.1m). LfL sales rose by 4.5% at company restaurants. Kent Taylor, CEO, reports ‘our operators continued to deliver strong operational and financial results with solid comparable restaurant sales growth and an increase in restaurant margin. Positive guest counts primarily drove the increase in comparable restaurant sales, marking our 26th consecutive quarter of growth, while lower commodity costs continued to pave the way for margin expansion. On the development front, we are on track to open approximately 30 company restaurants this year and we continue to fill our new restaurant pipeline for next year and beyond.’
• Heineken has reported a volume increase of 2.6% across its premium beers with group organic revenues up by 4.1%. CEO Jean-François van Boxmeer reported ‘our first half performance reflects a very good first quarter, also helped by softer comparatives, and a solid second quarter. Whilst Africa Middle East & Eastern Europe continued to be challenging, performance was strong in some key developing markets such as Vietnam and Mexico.’ He continued ‘Europe also contributed to our results with positive momentum and a clear focus on operational excellence.’ Mr van Boxmeer concluded ‘despite adverse economic conditions in some developing markets and currency headwinds, we expect full year margin expansion in line with our medium term guidance of around 40bps per annum.’
• Hippo Inns is to reopen a unit in West Brompton under its original name, The Lillie Langtry. CEO Rupert Clevely reports ‘we hear stories all the time about how many pubs are closing in the UK every day, but this story is about one that is reopening. The Lillie Langtry is one of West Brompton’s most iconic pubs and we want people to think of it as an extension of their own homes.’
LEISURE TRAVEL & HOTELS:
• The Scottish government’s plan to replace APD with a reduced level of duty has met with a mixed response. Environmental campaigners do not wish to see travel costs reduced whilst the Scottish government believes reducing APD will help to improve its international connectivity.
• Qatar Airways has increased its holding in IAG to 20%.
• Gear4music has reported sales up 66% to £13.8m in the first four months of its financial year
FINANCE & MARKETS:
• Home ownership is falling across most English cities. The proportion of home owners in Manchester, for example, dropped from 72% in April 2003 to 58% in 2016.
• The IEA has said that the gender gap no longer exists in terms of salaries. It says ‘if you look at the official pay gap ONS stats women between the ages of 22 and 39 are actually earning more than their male counterparts which indicates we have moved passed the fundamental issue of gender discrimination.’
• Manufacturing activity has fallen since the June 23 Brexit vote. Markit reports a number of 48.2, where any number below 50.0 implies contraction. Markit said ‘amid increasingly widespread reports that business activity has been adversely affected by the EU referendum’.
• The price of Brent crude fell below $42 yesterday. WTI fell below $40 on fears of a glut of oil.
• The British government has advertised for an experienced dealmaker to help ink in various contracts with regard to UK/EU trade. The candidate could come from the EU or the Commonwealth. The advert says the applicant ‘will play a central role in defining and negotiating our new relationship with the EU in the field of financial services’.
RETAIL NEWS WITH NICK BUBB:
• Today’s Press and News: With the Retail news cupboard pretty bare again, apart from the news that Burberry is buying out the 15% minority in its Chinese retail operation, the main focus yesterday was on two interesting people moves: the Drapers website flagged that Harrods’ MD Michael Ward has decided to stay on indefinitely (and not retire) to help the business deal with “changes to the UK economy”, whilst the Retail Week website revealed that Tesco’s Chief Customer Officer and multichannel guru Robin Terrell is stepping down after three years in order to pursue a portfolio career.
• News Flow This Week: As we move on into August, Travis Perkins, Greggs and Pendragon are in focus on the Retail/Building/Motors beat today. But the big event this week is the Q2 update from Next and their influential CEO Simon Wolfson tomorrow, although the MPC interest rate announcement on Thursday at mid-day is going to be almost equally interesting, whilst Thursday also brings the SMMT new car sales figures for July and the Pets at Home Q1 trading update. And then Friday night sees the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics in Rio.