The pending smoking ban in England and Wales will be in focus next week when pub owners Mitchells & Butlers and Wolverhampton & Dudley report results.
Mitchells & Butlers – the owner of pub chains All Bar One and Harvester – is tipped to report strong current trading trends when it posts full-year results on Wednesday.
Like-for-like sales have accelerated at M&B since the World Cup this summer – up 5.3 per cent in the 10 weeks after the tournament finished – and analysts expect it to report further progress over the past few weeks. The City is also hoping that the turnaround of the 239 Whitbread pubs Mitchells bought in July is progressing as planned.
Matthew Gerard, of Investec Securities, said: "We expect strong trading trends to have continued into the current year and the turnaround of the Whitbread pubs to be on track."
Mr Gerard forecast Mitchells to report pre-tax profits of #205.7 million for the 12 months to September 30, compared with #193 million a year ago. The consensus figure in the City is #205 million. Any update on plans for the smoking ban, which comes in next summer, will also be of interest to the City.
In Scotland, food sales have soared at the Mitchells estate since the ban was introduced although drinks sales have declined slightly.
Mr Gerard said: "We think Mitchells is well placed to benefit from the smoking ban likely to come into effect in England and Wales next year."
There will also be interest in what brewer and pubs chain Wolverhampton & Dudley says about possible acquisitions on Friday after recently declaring itself "well positioned" for deals.
Wolverhampton has completed a string of takeovers in the last two years including Burtonwood, Jennings Brothers, English Country Inns and Celtic Inns and could outline its intentions for a further spending spree.
The introduction of new outlets enabled the company’s beer brands to increase turnover by 5per cent to #41.9 million in the first half of the year at a time when the overall beer market declined by 2 per cent.
Investors will be interested to see if growth has been sustained and any progress on its investment in patios, gardens and shelters at its pubs across England and Wales will also be gratefully received as it prepares for the smoking ban. The City expects Wolverhampton to post pre-tax profits of #101 million for the 12 month period compared with #90 million last year. As well as its pub estate, the company also brews Pedigree and Banks's among other beers.
Staying in the drinks sector, Investors will be looking for good news from Britvic when it reports its first full-year results as a listed company on Thursday.
Shares in the Tango and Robinsons firm rose around 20 per cent after it joined the stock market in December but then crashed by more than 30 per cent as the changing drinking habits of health conscious consumers led to two profits warnings.
However, it has since clawed back some of its losses amid speculation that it could be a takeover target and signs that it is getting to grips with its troubles.