A rise in trading during the warm weather toward the end of last month and the start of October showed that if conditions are right then pubs “can still pull in the punters”, according to a leading analyst. The latest pub spend tracker from Espirito Santo said that given the favourable conditions it was no surprise that its September results picked up a huge trading performance. The tracker, which asks c.2,000 adults about their monthly spend in pubs and bars, found that on a three-month moving average the pub spend trend data for September was up 10.6% year-on-year, compared to a 5% rise in August and a 3.9% rise in July. But analysts Alastair McDonald said that the month’s message was that, “if the conditions are right, then the consumer remains willing to spend his or hers hard earned cash down the pubs”. He said: “Purse strings may be tight, but the pub can still loosen them from time to time.” Looking towards October’s results, McDonald said that there is nothing in the tracker’s data to suggest a halt on spending. He said: “As we all know, weather remains key, and the comp might be a little tougher, but we expect October to post YOY growth.” The analyst said that if the pubcos can trade through October without any problems, then “calendar 2011 should end up as a reasonable year of progress for the industry”. At the same time, McDonald upgrade his recommendation for JD Wetherspoon (JDW) to Neutral from Sell. He said: “Although we remain concerned with regard to the JDW operating margin, our EPS forecasts are no longer significantly below consensus estimates. We roll out our fair value calculation for the next 12 months, which leads to a 3% upgrade from 400p to 410p.”