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SSP to faucet shareholders for £475m as Upper Crust owners waits for travel limitations to simplicity

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SSP to tap shareholders for £475m as Upper Crust owners waits for travel restrictions to ease
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SP, the operator of cafes and dining places at airports and teach stations, is to tap shareholders for £475 million in a go to give it a lot more respiratory room although vacation limits keep on being in area.

The FTSE 250 enterprise driving manufacturers these as Upper Crust and Ritazza extra that along with and conditional on the legal rights challenge, it has secured the extension of financial institution financial loans that were thanks to mature in 2022 and 2024.

SSP explained: “These actions will safeguard the business if the world journey sector ordeals a much more extended recovery from the pandemic, even though under SSP’s base scenario scenario, they will bolster the group’s balance sheet and present greater capability for investment decision as the vacation marketplace recovers.”

The agency observed profits slump final calendar year, down 47.9% to £1.4 billion in the 12 months to September, as work from household assistance and international vacation limits observed footfall at stations and airports significantly decrease.

The team temporarily shut the huge bulk of its estate for the duration of lockdowns.

It expects a close to complete return of passenger quantities to pre Covid levels by 2024, led by a rebound in domestic and leisure limited-haul air and rail vacation.

SSP’s board is self-assured in the medium expression outlook for the group’s stop markets, but the business warned the “profile of the restoration remains uncertain”.

SSP reported: “Notwithstanding the immediate approval of coronavirus vaccines and the international roll-out of vaccination programmes, new variants of the virus, vaccine source constraints and different lockdown and travel restrictions mean that the speed of the recovery in 2021 has been delayed relative to the group’s anticipations in direction of the conclusion of 2020.”

The most up-to-date fundraise marks the second time the business has turned to shareholders for assistance during the pandemic. It raised £216 million through a share inserting in March very last yr.

Main govt Simon Smith said: “We are ready to re-open up quickly, welcome back our teams, and deliver our travelling buyers with a good support when they return. Looking even more ahead, the actions we are using will make it possible for us to capitalise on the restoration as properly as long run new business opportunities, enabling us to produce prolonged expression sustainable expansion for the advantage of all our stakeholders.”

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The 30 major companies doing £8 billion of share buybacks, and why they’re doing it

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The 30 major companies doing £8 billion of share buybacks, and why they’re doing it
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he City is calling it a Buyback Bonanza.

In the past fortnight, both Unilever and Diageo have announced they are buying back their shares to the tune of billions of pounds.

Research for the Evening Standard by share trading platform AJ Bell shows major UK companies have announced pland to buy back more than £8 billion of shares so far this year.

Of the 30 top names, some of the UK’s biggest companies feature, ranging from BP and Standard Chartered to Barclays and Balfour Beatty.

But what do buybacks mean, who does them and why?

When companies have built up a lot of spare cash from selling their products and services, they have three choices; invest it in something new that will hopefully generate more profits further down the line; keep it for a rainy day; or hand it over to shareholders.

If they choose the latter, they can either give it to the investors as cash – usually done as a dividend – or they can do it by spending the money on buying back the company’s shares from the investors.

What’s the point in that?

A share represents a slice of the value of a company. If you reduce the numbers of shares in issue, theoretically each share should be worth a bit more.

Also, it means that the big institutions get cash back for their shares when the company buys them. They can then invest that money elsewhere to get a higher return.

Generally, a company will tell a broker to go into the market and buy up a certain amount of stock, generally from the big City investors. UBS is doing the deed for Diageo.

Retail investors don’t generally have their stock bought back but they do benefit from the appreciation in the share price and a bigger share in the future dividends.

Why are so many buybacks happening now?

Through the Covid crisis, companies cautiously held onto as much cash as they could to get through the economic calamity brought on by the pandemic.

Many held back on paying dividends to investors, or reined in their spending on marketing, research and development or takeovers.

Now there seems to be an end in sight to the pandemic pain, those who can’t think of anything better to do with the cash are handing it back to shareholders.

Russ Mould at AJ Bell says super low interest rates are also driving the buyback trend: “Low interest rates mean firms are not gaining a decent return on any liquid assets,” he says.

Does the share price always rise when buybacks happen?

Not necessarily. BP has been doing them for years and it’s had little impact on the price, although you could argue that it’s impossible to say exactly what influences a share fluctuation. It’s possible BP stock would have fallen further if it had not been buying some of it back.

How should investors interpret a share buyback when considering a company?

Views are different. Most investors see them as a sign of confidence coming out of a recession, in that it shows management are less cautious about holding onto cash.

AJ Bell’s Mould says buybacks may also suggest management considers the shares are too cheap. After all, everyone in business wants to buy low and sell high. It is, then another vote of confidence in the company.

But it can also suggest management has run out of ideas about where to invest. That can be an indication either of unimaginative management or a boring, low growth industry. It could also mean management is risk averse, which could be a good thing.

E-commerce player The Hut Group this week issued new shares to expand its fast growing operations. That diluted existing shareholders but the stock rose because investors hoped the company would be worth more in the long run as a result of the deal.

Fast growing companies, particularly in tech, will often issue new shares to raise to cash because there is so much to go for in their markets to boost future profits. The slice of the pie may be thinner, but the pie itself will be larger.

Yes. Buybacks have come in for criticism because management teams have been accused of using them to juice up their bonuses.

Some bonus schemes are based on earnings per share (EPS) of the company. EPS is a measure where you take the total profit made by the company and divide it by the shares in issue. Naturally, if you reduce the number of shares that are out, hey presto, the EPS rises.

Some investors see buybacks as a form of financial engineering rather than improving the actual operations of the company and investing for solid, long term growth.

There is also evidence to suggest that, while management teams may think the shares are cheap, buybacks are generally done during bull markets when shares are actually at their highs.

More than £10 billion of share buyback plans were cancelled in 2020 when shares were probably at their cheapest. Buybacks done in, say, March last year would have been at rock bottom prices, producing a maximum EPS boost.

AJ Bell also warns that some companies are under so much pressure to give back cash to investors that they go into debt to fund the buyback. That could destabilise the business.

So, be wary of companies who buy back shares at any price, preferably setting a maximum they are prepared to pay and explaining why, and be cautious of those who do buybacks when their debts are high.

Diageo is quite highly indebted and its share price relatively fully valued, some analysts have warned. While the shares shot up more than 3% today, some of that could have been due to big profit upgrade it also announced rather than solely the buyback plan. It remains to be seen whether the buyback alone is a significant factor.

Mould says the final word should go to Warren Buffett, the so-called Sage of Omaha who, with his sidekick Charlie Munger, has been beating the markets for decades: “Charlie and I favour repurchases when two conditions are met: first, a company has ample funds to take care of the operational liquidity and needs of its business; second, its stock is selling at a material discount to the company’s intrinsic business value, conservatively calculated.”

Diageo

£1bn

Unilever

£2.6bn

BP

£360m

IMI

£200m

Quilter

£187m

D4t4

£300,000

Natwest

£1.13bn

Ferguson

£290m

Arix Bioscience

£25m

Raven Property

£7m

Somero Enterprises

£1m

IP Group

TBC

Balfour Beatty

£150m

Gamesys

TBC

Domino’s Pizza

£45m

CRH

£216m

Sage

£300m

Trans Siberian Gold

£1m

Rightmove

TBC

Griffin Mining

£7m

Spectris

£200m

Standard Chartered

£181m

Berkeley Group

£129m

Glanbia

£44m

CML Microsystems

£8m

Barclays

£700m

South32

£180m

Plus500

£18m

Zytronic

£10m

Contour Global

£23m

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