At 2.8 per cent Greene King on Monday reported what for many retailers would be an enviable rate of like-for-like sales growth over the past six weeks. Within the tenanted pubs, the performance was more pedestrian. But average earnings per pub were up by 4.2 per cent over the 36 weeks since the April start of the financial year, helped by the continuing sale of underperforming sites, 65 in the financial year to date. The shares
have been strong performers since the spring and sell on a justified premium to the sector. But the outlook for any business reliant on discretionary consumer spending cannot be encouraging; on about 11.6 times' this year's earnings, there does not seem to be any reason to buy for the short term, The Times's Tempus column says.
The sale of CWC's Macau operation, for the equivalent of £465 m, means the company has raised £887m from disposals, including the sale of the Monaco and Islands business last month. Furthermore, another $345m will come if the rest of Monaco is sold, though this is by no means certain. The question is what the company plans on doing with the money. As well, although the company has already indicated that the dividend for the year to the end of March will be halved to four cents, this still provides the shares with the support of a dividend yield of above 6%. In any case, the main attraction is the belief that, in its tidied-up form, and with a clear focus in Panama and the Carribean, CWC will also attract the attention of a purchaser, Tempus says.
Waste management group Shanks has finally signed its £750m, 25-year contract with Wakefield council. This is a strategic success for the company as it aims to increase its exposure to the UK and win better quality contracts, with returns linked to rises in inflation. Shanks processes waste in the UK and in Europe's Benelux region. The majority of its earnings are generated in continental Europe, but this is expected to change over the next few years as its UK investments increase. Shanks' market backdrop is challenging, but the group continues to position itself well. The shares are trading on a March 2013 multiple of 19.2, falling to 14.2 then 11.2 over the next two years. The prospective yield is 3.8% and the shares remain a buy for future growth in a market that is underpinned by regulation, The Telegraph's Questor team says.
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