AIM-listed posh mixers maker Fevertree Drinks said on Thursday that the first four months of this year have seen further progress after 2017 proved to be another year of strong growth, with "impressive" rates of sale growth and market share gains.
In a statement to be made at the company's annual general meeting later in the day, chairman Bill Ronald said that brand strength in the UK, where Fevertree is the market leader, as well as its relationships with key customers and spirit managers means it is increasingly well positioned as the wider mixer category continues to evolve.
"The group's performance in the year to date has been encouraging and at this early stage in the year we are trading in line with market expectations for the full year ending 31 December 2018," said Ronald.
Fevertree said the transition to its wholly-owned operations in the US is continuing to plan.
"We have made excellent progress, with the Fevertree US team now in place ahead of taking direct management of our distribution network and marketing effort on 1st June 2018," said Ronald.
Shore Capital said it does not expect the market to upgrade expectations following the statement, as it kept its slightly ahead of consensus expectations unchanged. ShoreCap is forecasting sales of £208m, pre-tax profit of £64.9m and earnings per share of 45.6p.
"We remain of the view that there is a significant opportunity for Fevertree with the growth engine now more likely to be in the US. The lack of upgrades to market expectations may put a dampener on the share price today, especially considering it has been rising into today's statement. For some investors this may present an opportunity when considering the long term opportunity in Fevertree if it executes its broader ambitions," said analyst Phil Carroll.
"We continue to believe there is a strong market opportunity for Fever-tree and the US market is going to be an interesting test especially with the transition to direct control albeit, we see this as a necessary step in the development of the business. However, with the shares
trading on a PER of 64x and an EV/EBITDA ratio of 50x we see the growth potential well reflected in the valuation."
ShoreCap retained its 'hold' rating on the stock.
At 1115 BST, the shares were down 5.4% to 2,767p.