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Glass Better Than Half-Full At J D Wetherspoon Plc

Shares in pub owner and operator J D Wetherspoon (LSE: JDW) were up some 53p by lunchtime today, after figures in its pre-close update came in ahead of expectations.

The shares gained around 7.9% on the news to trade at around the 720p mark.

Today’s update revealed that total sales for the 11 weeks to 14 July increased by 6.2%, with like-for-like sales up 3.5% — a better-than-expected performance.

The pub company stated that since the start of the financial year it had opened 29 new pubs and disposed of three, with the intention of opening a further 30 pubs in the next financial year.

It also advised investors that it was “now on track to achieve a slightly better outcome […] than previously anticipated” for the full year. But it also warned that late night levy, gaming machine duty and business rates taxes had all increased, as well its pension costs.

Full-year results are expected on 13 September.

Forecasts before today’s announcement put J D Wetherspoon’s shares on a forward P/E close to 16, with 10 out of 15 brokers rating the shares as a ‘Hold’. Whether the shares represent a ‘buy’ at this price only you can decide.

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> Andy does not own the shares mentioned.