Pub ownersEnterprise Inns(LSE: ETI),Spirit Pub Co(LSE: SPRT),Punch Taverns(LSE: PUB),Marstons(LSE: MARS) andGreene King(LSE: GNK) are all sliding today, after an unexpected House of Commons vote took place last night, which ended the long-standing beer tie.
In a surprising move, the removal of the beer tie was anamendment to tacked onto the small business, enterprise and employment bill at the last minute, giving tenanted pub owners no chance to campaign, or prepare for the change.
Enterprise Inns management was quick to denounce the surprise move, stating this morning that:
This amendment, which was not supported by the Government, threatens to have serious unintended consequences for publicans and the industry at large
While according to Punch:
The Governments own research indicated that breaking the tie would be expected to result in between 700 and 1,400 more pubs closing with 3,700 to 7,000 job losses
Punchs management believes that the industrys outlook has now changed for the worst:
We are currently considering the potential impact of the amended Bill on Punch, including the implications for our substantial pub investment programme and our disposal plans
The vote in favour of allowing pub tenants to buy beer from any supplier they wish, is likely to have consequences across the tenanted pub sector. And it seems as if the City feels the same way with the shares of Enterprise Inns, Spirit Pub Co, Punch Taverns, Marstons and Greene Kingall slumping in early trade.
However, some pub mangers stand to lose more than most. Enterprise and Punch are two of the largest pub managers in the sector. These two companies shave posted some of the largest declines in the sector this morning.
Nevertheless, Spirit has the most to lose from this sudden overnight development. Indeed, the company has just agreed to a774m, 115p per share takeover offer from peerGreene King, the largest deal of its kindsince the credit crunch designed to create UKs biggest managed pub business.
As Spirits shares have now fallen 10% today, far below the offer price, its reasonable to assume that the City believes the deal will fall through after last nights development.
Meanwhile, Marstonshave only fallen 4% this morning, which could be something to do with the groupspub restaurant model. Marstons model of tacking restaurants onto its pubs is a style that investors have long shown their support for. Marstons has traded at a premium to its peers for much of the past few years as investors have struggled to get their hands on the shares.
Bargains to be had
Todays declines across the pub sector are to be expected, especially considering the uncertainty this development has created. Still, for bargain hunters some opportunities have been created.
For example, Enterprise Inns, Spirit, Punch and Greene King all trade at lowly forward P/Es of 6.4, 13.2, 3.5 and 12 respectively, while Marstons trades at a forward P/E of 11.9.
However, these low valuations are a warning, theres now a huge cloud over the sectors outlook and things could be about to change. This kind of uncertainty is never welcome in a portfolio. Indeed, dependable companies with a clear outlook and a well-covered dividend payout make the best investments.
With that in mind, I’m considering investing in several of the five FTSE shares highlighted withinthis exclusive wealth report.
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Rupert Hargreaves has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don’t all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.