Greene King plc (LON:GNK) (LSE:GNK.L) has released a trading statement for the 40 weeks to 5 February to the stock market. It achieved LFL sales growth of 1.1%. When the performance of Fayre & Square is excluded, this figure rises to 1.6%.
In the Christmas period, sales were 4.5% up on a LFL basis despite tough comparisons with the previous Christmas. London in particular contributed to this high growth rate, with Greene King breaking its record for Christmas Day sales. These were 6% up on the previous year at £7.4 million.
Progress was made on the Spirit integration, with over 1,000 pubs now converted to the ‘best of both’ profile. Progress was also made on the delivery of the estate plan. Greene King reached its target of 11 new pub acquisitions, of which 6 were Farmhouse Inns and 5 were Hungry Horse. Its disposal programme accelerated in H2 as expected.
Greene King yields 5% at the moment. That’s lower than other prominent dividend stocks such as Vodafone Group plc (LON:VOD) (LSE:VOD.L), HSBC Holdings plc (LON:HSBA) (LSE:HSBA.L) and Centrica PLC (LON:CNA) (LSE:CNA.L). Centrica yields 5.6%, Vodafone’s shares yield 6.4% and HSBC’s stock has a yield of 5.9%. However, it is ahead of easyJet plc’s (LON:EZJ) (LSE:EZJ.L) 4.2% yield.
In my view, Greene King faces a difficult future. Consumer spending in the UK may be hurt this year by higher inflation. I think this could make people economise on products which are not essential, such as eating/drinking at a pub. I feel the company has a good strategy to cope with the potential difficulties which may lie ahead. However, I think there are better dividend stocks around.
For example, Vodafone, HSBC and Centrica offer higher yields, while I think easyJet’s budget offering could help it to cope in difficult operating conditions. Therefore, Greene King may have a decent yield, but I think there are more appealing investment options from a dividend perspective.