A leading analyst has said he expects Marston’s to be on track to deliver 25 managed pub openings and have 500 pubs operating under its retail agreement by the end of 2012. Prior to the brewer and pub operator’s preliminary results next week, Simon French at Panmure Gordon said: “We expect the group to have opened the one remaining new build managed pub from the FY 2011E schedule in November and be on track to deliver 25 managed pub openings in FY 2012E. “The introduction of Retail Agreements is currently running ahead of plan and we expect 500 pubs to be operating under this format by the end of FY 2012E.” He said the market’s biggest concern would be the group’s debt pile, but said he believe that this was “comfortably manageable”, and forecast net debt to ebitda of 4.8x at the end of FY 2013E. He said: “We forecast £81.0m PBT (11.3p EPS), slightly ahead of consensus of £80.0m PBT (11.0p EPS). With a strong rollout programme in managed pubs, combined with the self-help of ongoing conversions to Retail Agreements in tenanted and leased pubs, we believe the stock is well positioned to grow earnings c8% in FY 2012E. “The stock is inexpensive in our view, trading on a CY 2012E P/E of 7.2x, an adj EV/EBITDAR of 7.4x and a sector-leading yield of 7.0%. We reiterate our Buy recommendation and 130p TP, implying c48% upside potential.”