Leading sector analyst Paul Hickman says he expects Enterprise Inns to have reduced its bank debt to as low as £160m by September due to its continuing disposal programme. Hickman, of Peel Hunt, has issued a Hold recommendation for the tenanted and leased pub company ahead of its interim management statement on Thursday, saying he expects like-for-like sales in its substantive estate to be down 1%. “We would have hoped to see full Q1 recovery against a comparative that was hit c.£2m by last year’s snow, with net income in the substantive estate down 2% lfl and average net income down 1%,” said Hickman. “However, in view of the underlying decline throughout last year, with the lfl down by 2% in H2 as well as H1, that is probably too much to hope for. “Nevertheless, a lift in the negative trend – for whatever reason – will reinforce the message that trading is stable, and the prospects on debt reduction are also expected to be upbeat.” Hickman said he expects Enterprise to have raised c.£60m from disposals in Q1, including the £23.9m sales and leaseback deal in December and the sale of 15 pubs to Fuller’s for £22.9m, 24% above book value. “If replicated for the remaining three quarters, that could leave it ahead of most expectations, with bank debt as low as £160m by September. We therefore expect continued strength ahead of Thursday.”