Market Report: Pubs go in to freefall


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The Independent Online

Britain’s biggest pub companies are crying into their pints.

Owners of boozers went into freefall yesterday after a surprise parliamentary amendment that signalled what could be the end of tied pubs. That arrangement requires landlords to buy a certain amount of their beer from the pub’s owner and is a lucrative earner for pubcos.

Punch Taverns dubbed the proposal “unworkable” and warned it risks “leading to higher levels of pub closures and job losses”. Enterprise Inns’ chief executive Simon Townsend labelled the amendment “wholly contrary to the findings of the consultation from which the Bill was drawn up”. Enterprise Inns tumbled 20.5p to 102.6p, Punch Taverns dropped 25.5p to 126p, Greene King fell 35.5p to 750.5p and Spirit Pub Company lost 6.5p to 101.5p.

The FTSE 100 fell 12.53 points to 6,696.6, overshadowed by disappointing updates from Intertek, down 206p at 2,447p, and Royal Mail, off 39.2p at 430p.

Those who thought things couldn’t get any worse for crisis hit insurance outsourcer Quindell would have been surprised to see the company fall a further 11p to 43p, on news that the sole analyst covering the company at its broker Cenkos, Andrew Bryant, resigned yesterday morning. Quindell’s fall means Gotham City Research, which targeted the company with an aggressive note in April, has had its forecast come true. It said the company was worth no more than 3p, which after June’s 15 for one share consolidation equates to 45p.

Blur Group sheepishly admitted it still can’t get it right yesterday; the company, which lets businesses book service contracts on its platform, dropped 9.5p to 63.5p; delays to “a small number” of large projects on the exchange meant profits and revenue for the year would be hit. Blur has lost 89 per cent of its value this year.

Health monitoring device maker Fitbug tumbled 5.87p to 14.12p. Traders report shorters now lining up against the company.

Security group Falanx rose 3p to 52.5p on news of a two-year contract with the Government’s emergency cyber defence team.