Derek Pain: Brewery joins ranks of those celebrating a very yeasty year

The stock market has enjoyed a splendid run in the past year with the benchmark Footsie index advancing around 1,000 points. Marston's is among the no pain, no gain portfolio constituents that have joined in the celebrations.

Last summer, the shares stood at around 105p. As I write they are 155p after touching 164.5p. Long regarded as the sober outsider among drink shares, their more recent display has almost put them in the same company as saloon bar high flyers.

The portfolio descended on the stock four years ago at 95p a time. For much of their inclusion they have been something of a disappointment. But in the past 15 months or so the shares have experienced a more cheerful glow. The dividend yield underlines the extent of the progress. Not so long ago, Marston's offered a return of more than 6 per cent. Nowadays it has been below 4 per cent.

The latest trading update from the brewer of such traditional beers as Pedigree and Brakspear and running around 2,100 pubs should go some way towards helping to retain the more celebratory atmosphere.

True, the shares fell rather sharply following the trading statement. But they had jumped excitedly beforehand and, I suspect, a few in-and-out merchants were keen to realise quick profits. I was, however, impressed by the company's comments and the portfolio intends to stick with an investment that is showing a handsome profit. With the arrival of summer trading has, not surprisingly, improved. In Marston's top outlets – a further 16 pub/restaurants have opened this year – like-for-like sales were up 2.1 per cent over 24 week. But in a more recent 10-week period, soaring temperatures have influenced a jump of 6 per cent.

The franchised and leasehold estates were described as performing in line with last year which was not what the bulls expected to hear. Still, I believe the shares, assuming the stock market keeps up at least some momentum, will continue to strengthen.

The portfolio arrived at Marston's when many share prices were at a low ebb, eroded by the impact of the financial crash. I then urged investors to take advantage of some of the prices prevailing. Time has proved it to be the right policy with the market now seemingly prepared to challenge its all-time peak.

Findel is another constituent that has got up a head of steam. The shares are above 200p compared with the portfolio's effective buying level in November of 142p. Stockbroker Peel Hunt has lifted its target price to 250p.

The home shopping group, where Toscafund Asset Management sits on approaching 30 per cent of the capital, may not be firing on all cylinders but its two most important divisions, accounting for around three quarters of its business, are doing well. The Express Gifts home shopping operation has achieved an 8 per cent sales advance and the educational supplies business gained some 9 per cent. On the debit side the Kitbag sports section was down 4 per cent against strong comparisons and work to rejuvenate Kleeneze is having "some early success".

But the portfolio still lives with loss makers. Avation, the aircraft leaser, continues to expand and has gained another customer, but the shares remain below the portfolio's buying price. The newcomer is Fiji Airways. It has negotiated a 12-year deal at "typical commercial lease rates" on an ATR 72-600 aircraft. The shares have lost some of their recent altitude and against the 83.5p paid by the portfolio are down to 71.5p. Still, is sticking with its buy recommendation. And stockbroker WH Ireland now has a 125p target price.

SnackTime, the vending group that has failed to deliver in share in price terms, reported its best quarterly performance for almost a year, although the improvement seems to stem largely from cost cutting.

Still, such progress is not to be discounted. Stockbroker Westhouse Securities recently produced a 20p target price with an "add" recommendation.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

    £14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...

    Reach Volunteering: Trustees with Finance, Fundraising and IT skills

    Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses reimbursable: Reach Volunteering: St...

    Day In a Page

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent