Marston's gains ground after broker upgrade

Shares in pub operator Marston’s (LSE: MARS) closed up 5.3% at 31.70p on Friday, after JPMorgan upgraded the stock to ‘overweight’ from ‘neutral’ and lifted its price target to 58p from 54p. The stock is up 7.5% over the past week.

Marston’s like-for-like sales have increased 7.4% since its latest financial year ended 30 September. The company is focusing on key growth strategies as Justin Platt prepares to become CEO in January.

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In its full-year results, Marston’s grew revenue 9.1% to £872.3m and underlying pub operating profit 8% to £124.8m. It benefited from an improved share of profits from its brewing JV, and generated £54.5m from disposals. The group is investing £50-55m in its estate in 2023/24.

Marston’s said Christmas bookings are ahead of last year. It has also secured its energy costs, with electricity fixed until end 2024 and gas until March 2025.

The stock is down 19% year-to-date.