Leading sector analyst Geof Collyer has issued a Hold recommendation for Marston’s ahead of its final results on 30 November, branding the brewer and pub operator a “relatively safe haven”. Collyer, of Deutsche Bank, estimated that Marston’s full-year revenues would rise 3% to £670m, with EBITDA up 3.1% to £192.5m and profit before tax and amortisation up 4.1% to £75.6m. He set a target price of 93.45p for the company. In its managed Retail division, Marston’s is in “the middle of the peer pack”, with like-for-likes up 2.9%, said Collyer. “Despite much of this growth being driven by the lower gross margin food sales, the retail margins are forecast by the company to be slightly ahead for the year. We are looking for an increase of 54 bps at the EBITA level. “This is coming from the more ergonomically efficient new build programme and through price increases, which the group suggested would cover over half of the input cost inflation. We forecast that the 95 pubs in the new build estate should be generating almost 20% of divisional sales and over 25% of EBITDA.” Collyer said that despite like-for-like EBITDA in the tenanted and leased arm nudging ahead this year into positive territory, the improved performance was “driven by significant investment in the Retail Agreement sites that are also half the margin of a tradition tenanted or leased pub”. “As a result, we are expecting T&L divisional margins to fall by just over 100 bps. So far the conversion programme stands at 330, over half way towards the target of 600 by 2013.” On the beer division, Collyer said: “Own brewed beer volumes were +2% during the year. Overall, we are looking for flat sales, but modest profit growth in brewing.” Overall, he said Marston’s was a “relatively safe haven, backed by a 6% dividend yield”.