Goodbody has said it retains its “cautious view” on Marston’s in terms of investment due to the fact it has endured an extended period of muted like-for-like growth, it said in a note following Marston’s preliminary full-year results update on Wednesday (27 November).

“This has partly contributed to a number of downgrades to forecasts and margin contraction. We see limited prospects for PBT growth through the forecast horizon,” said Goodbody gaming and leisure analyst Paul Ruddy.

“Furthermore, leverage remains high (6.3x ND/EBITDA) and the group needs to dispose of sites to de-lever while paying the dividend,” he added.

On the FY19 figures, Ruddy said the PBT decline of 3% year-on-year was in line with its expectations, and following the comments by managements on positive like-for-like (lfl) figures for the first seven weeks of the year and confirmation of deferred new build capital spend and disposals targets, Goodbody is not making any material changes to its FY20 forecasts “at first glance”.

Meanwhile JP Morgan said it anticipated a neutral share reaction following the announcement, and said it forecast Marston’s holding the group level operating margin flat in FY20.

“We make no material changes to our near-term forecasts, given the in-line results. The results contain some detail on the impact of IFRS16 but in this note we retain our estimates under IAS 17,” added the note.