Shares in Punch Taverns, the embattled pub operator, rose by 2p yesterday to end the day at 66.6p – after the company said sales had increased in the past month because of the hot weather and the World Cup. The group said like-for-like sales at its managed pubs were down by 2.7% over 44 weeks, an improvement on the 3.4% decline it experienced in the first half of its financial year. Like-for-like ebitda per pub at its leased estate decreased by 5%, the same amount as reported at the half-year stage. Geof Collyer, analyst at Deutsche Bank, said the like-for-like performance at Punch’s tenanted pubs was still a big concern. He said the group was trading lower than its peers. With a hold recommendation and a target price of 105p, he said: “The outlook statement is cautious as expected. We remain cautious on the shares as Punch continues to underperform its peer group operationally and is around 2-3 years away from reinstating its dividend.” But, Greg Feehely and Wayne Brown at Altium, thought that Punch’s IMS had been a positive one. With a buy recommendation and a target price of 80p, the duo said the company had provided “reassurance on the cash resources”. They added: “ We believe these are not only sufficient to protect the capital structure of the group for many years, in so doing providing the headroom to allow the significant ongoing restructuring of the group, but that they will not deplete in the way we had previously feared. “This is a key positive for us and the main reason behind our (admittedly high risk) buy on the stock. We remain fully cognisant of the substantial repositioning and trading challenges ahead.”