Britvic shares have bounced back after the Fruit Shoot recall wiped £97m off the value of the stock last week. The share price plummeted to a low of 260p last Wednesday, when Britvic revised the estimated cost of the recall from between £1m and £5m to up to £25m. Seven days later, after the panic had eased, the price had recovered 10% to 285p. “People thought it had been beaten down too far,” surmised Panmure analyst Damian McNeela.
On Thursday, a trading statement from Britvic gave the price a further boost, adding another 5p by lunchtime. Although there was little cheer to be had in the news that like-for-like sales had slumped by more than 5% because of the recall and bad weather, the reduction in 2012 Capex spending to £50m was welcomed. Investors interpreted it as evidence the company was conserving cash in order to protect dividends, said McNeela, although he stopped short of advising clients to buy the stock. “We feel the shares are best avoided for the time being,” he said.
Dairy Crest attempted to placate farmers, angry about falling farmgate prices, by cutting the notice period they have to give when switching processors from a year to three months. In the same breath, it also reassured investors by announcing that sales of Cathedral City, Country Life, Clover and Frijj had increased 15% in the first quarter. It added that it was making progress towards a medium-term target of achieving 3% operating margins in its dairies business - squeezed in recent months by rising input costs and supermarket price pressure.
On the day of the announcement, the share price opened up slightly at 343p. It has had a good run in the past two months, supported by news Dairy Crest will be closing two dairies and selling French spreads brand St Hubert for £344m. “We look forward to seeing what opportunities Dairy Crest pursues with the newly invigorated balance sheet,” said Investec analyst Nicola Mallard.
Zetar’s share price jumped 4% on Wednesday after the snacks and confectionery group revealed that sales in the first 11 weeks of the financial year were up 16%. “After a challenging year that culminated in major retailers understocking for Easter, the outlook for next year is more positive,” said Liberum analyst Patrick Coffey.