October 10, 2018 / 6:54 AM / in a month

UPDATE 2-Marston's shares slip as profit forecast fails to impress

* Food sales disappoint after hot summer

* To buy 15 former Mitchells & Butlers pubs

* Shares slip as analysts whittle down forecasts (Adds CEO comments, analysts’ forecast, shares)

By Karina Dsouza

Oct 10 (Reuters) - Shares in Marston Plc slipped on Wednesday after the pub operator’s full-year pretax profit forecast disappointed analysts who focused on weaknesses in food sales.

Marston’s, whose beer brands include Young’s and Bombardier, said it expects annual pretax profit of about 104 million pounds ($136.8 million) in the year to Sept. 29, 2018, above the 100.1 million pounds it reported a year earlier.

Wolverhampton-based Marston’s also said it would buy 15 former Mitchells & Butlers pubs from Aprirose, a property investment company.

Liberum analysts said the annual profit figure fell short of their 107 million pound forecast, while Peel Hunt analysts said they would pare 3 million pounds from their forecast.

“Trading in Destination food-led pubs was weaker, this predominantly reflects issues beyond our control relating to unseasonal weather extremes and the World Cup,” Chief Executive Officer Ralph Findlay said.

“However, we are encouraged that our dining pubs are now seeing improving momentum and we expect to make further progress in 2019,” he added.

Total pub sales rose 3.2 percent — 0.6 percent on a like-for-like basis — helped by higher drinks sales in the second half of the year.

Shares traded 2.8 percent lower at 98.35 pence at 0830 GMT, giving the company a valuation of around 640 million pounds.

A slump in the pound since the Brexit vote in June 2016 and rise in the national minimum wage have pushed up costs for pub owners. At the same time, consumers have been spending less as their disposable incomes come under pressure.

“Food-led destination pubs have not seen the Q4 bounce back anticipated although wet-led pubs continue to trade well,” Liberum analyst Anna Barnfather said. ($1 = 0.7603 pounds) (Reporting by Karina Dsouza and Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru Editing by Amrutha Gayathri/Keith Weir)

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