Week Ahead

Barr strategy update | ASC | Wood | JD Sports

Roger White (AG Barr)
Roger White: departing

AG Barr’s plant closures and job losses, announced earlier this month, came after the full year reporting period but inevitably will prompt questions when CEO Roger White delivers his final figures on Tuesday before stepping down.

White passes the baton to former Superdry, Saga and Co-op chief Euan Sutherland on 1 May and analysts will be keen to hear more about the revamped distribution model that he will inherit. Following the announcement on the closure and cutbacks the shares rose, signalling approval for the changes from investors.

According to an update in February revenue is expected to be c.£400m, representing c.26% year-on-year growth and c.7.6% on a like-for-like basis, excluding the contribution from the Boost Drinks business acquired in December 2022. 

Adjusted profit before tax is now expected to be c.£49.5m, up 13.8% on the prior year (2022/23: £43.5m) and slightly ahead of previous market expectations.

Artisanal Spirits Company, the AIM-quoted owner of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, enjoyed an unspoiled upward trajectory until it was forced to warn on profits in December because of weaker-than-expected sales in China and a disappointing programme launch meant it would miss full-year revenue targets.

New chief executive Andrew Dane sought to reassure the markets that the business model was “robust”, but accepted that the “phasing of growth would be deferred by a year”. The shares fell by double digits after the announcement and an update will be uppermost for investors.

Just a few days into the new year, the company acquired the entire trade and assets of US-based bottling brand Single Cask Nation to take greater advantage of the sizeable and growing American Whiskey market.

According to an update last month revenue and adjusted EBITDA for the year remain in line with guidance issued on 8 December, with revenue expected to be at the top end of £23m (plus 1%).

Energy services company Wood Group, which reports finals on Tuesday, said in January that it is showing good growth across all its operations with the order book rising and stronger cash generation.

It also plans to sell its 51% controlling stake in Aberdeen-based equipment provider Ethos Energy which was set up in 2014 in conjunction with Germany’s Siemens. It has 4,000 staff globally.

Wood said its full-year adjusted core earnings would be slightly ahead of expectations and is forecast to come in at $420m to $425m, up 9%.

JD Sports announces a trading update on Thursday amid a lot of baggage. Controversies over the aborted Footasylum acquisition, price fixing of football shirts and the hasty the departure of long-time executive chairman and chief executive Peter Cowgill may be in the past but shares in JD Sports Fashion are still down by a third in the past year, to leave them unchanged since April 2019, even though sales and profits are way higher than five years ago.

There was a profit warning in January and lingering doubts over new boss Régis Schultz’s aggressive, and costly, store roll-out plan are weighing on the stock, say analysts at AJ Bell, adding that this trading update will also be judged in the context of the five-year growth plan outlined by Mr Schultz in February last year.

Diary

Monday 25 March

  • Full-year results from Kingfisher, Henry Boot

Tuesday 26 March

  • Full-year results from AG Barr, John Wood, 888
  • First-half results from Smiths Group, Bellway and YouGov
  • Trading statement from Ocado

Wednesday 27 March

  • Full-year results from Artisanal Spirits Company
  • First-half results from James Halstead

Thursday 28 March

  • Full-year results from EnQuest
  • Trading update from JD Sports
  • Nationwide UK house price index
  • US weekly unemployment claims

Friday 29 March

  • London Stock Exchange closed for Good Friday


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