Ei Group plc (LON: EIG ), the largest owner and operator of pubs in the UK, today announces its results for the year ended 30 September 2018.
Ø Further growth in net asset value to £3.34 per share (2017: £3.13 per share)
Ø Underlying EBITDA# level at £287 million (2017: £287 million), in line with expectations and assisted by a great summer for pubs given the success of the England football team at the FIFA World Cup and some prolonged periods of good weather
Ø Underlying profit before tax# of £122 million (2017: £121 million)
Ø Statutory profit after tax of £72 million (2017: £54 million), after non-underlying finance costs of £6 million (2017: £30 million) and non-underlying property charges of £25 million (2017: £24 million)
Ø Basic earnings per share of 15.2p (2017: 11.2p) which, adjusting for non-underlying items, delivers underlying earnings per share# of 21.2p (2017: 20.5p)
Ø Announcement of a further share buyback programme of up to £20 million commencing with immediate effect which follows completion of £20 million share buyback in March 2018
Ø Positive momentum in our operating divisions
· Publican Partnerships
o Like-for-like net income# up 1.2% (2017: up 2.3%) with growth across all geographic regions
o Average net income per pub# up 2.3% to £81,400 (2017: £79,600)
· Commercial Properties
o Total portfolio of 412 (2017: 331) commercial properties generating net annualised rental income of £29 million (2017: £23 million)
o Average net income per property# up 8.2% to £72,300 (2017: £66,800)
o Exploring monetisation of the commercial property portfolio which may include the disposal of all or part of the portfolio
· Managed Pubs
o Like-for-like sales growth of 7.1% (2017: up 2.4%) across our largely wet-led managed house businesses
o Managed Operations – building scale and performance; growth on track with 308 (2017: 226) pubs trading within our 100% owned Managed Operations division with 54 (2017: 48) trading within our Bermondsey operation and 254 (2017: 178) within our drinks-led Craft Union operation.
o Managed Investments – continued progress with 47 (2017: 30) pubs trading within our Managed Investments division with 11 specialist partners
Ø Stable and robust balance sheet and cash flows
· Annual property estate valuation stable for third consecutive year
· Strong operating cash flows of £271 million (2017: £261 million) and disposal proceeds of £66 million (2017: £100 million) funded capital investment of £81 million (2017: £80 million) and debt reduction
· Sufficient available bank facilities to repay the £100.5 million corporate bonds due 6 December 2018
· Net debt reduced to £2.0 billion (2017: £2.1 billion), equivalent to loan-to-value of 56%
Commenting on the results, Simon Townsend, Ei Chief Executive Officer said:
“2018 has been a notable year for the Group, as the strategic plan we launched in 2015 has evolved and matured to the extent that our implementation of the strategy is now “business as usual”. We are very pleased to have maintained positive momentum in our leased and tenanted business whilst at the same time transitioning selected assets into the alternative formats and operating models of our other business units. The good investment returns we are achieving upon conversion to Managed Operations have been maintained, and the like-for-like sales performance of the enlarged managed business has been very encouraging throughout the year. Our commercial property estate has grown substantially in quality and scale and, consistent with our objective to consider monetising the value of all or part of this business, we have received indications that this attractive, diverse, well-located, income-yielding portfolio of assets is of considerable interest to potential acquirers.
We welcome the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s decisions in the Autumn Budget to freeze beer duty and to reduce the burden of business rates for small businesses which are important gestures of support for the role that UK pubs and publicans play at the heart of their local communities. Notwithstanding the wider uncertainty that prevails across the UK currently, our strategy and our flexible business models provide us with the confidence that we can continue to deliver like-for-like net income growth for the current year in our Publican Partnerships and Commercial Properties businesses, and like-for-like sales growth in our expanding managed businesses.
We continue to take appropriate steps to ensure that the Group’s capital structure enables and supports our objective to deliver attractive and sustainable returns for shareholders, as demonstrated by today’s announcement to initiate a further share buyback programme of up to £20 million.
Our strategic plan is on track and we remain focussed on driving long-term growth in shareholder value.”