Compass share price surges as it unveils £500m stock buyback plan

·2 min read
Pre-tax half-year profits at Compass increased to £632m in the six months to 31 March. Photo: Compass Group
Pre-tax half-year profits at Compass increased to £632m in the six months to 31 March. Photo: Compass Group

Shares in Compass (CPG.L) soared after the company announced a $500m (£404m) stock buyback programme as the return of office workers and reopening of schools helped it rebound to pre-COVID levels.

The Compass group, the world’s largest caterer, expects to generate 30% more sales this year, up from between 20% and 25% previously.

Pre-tax half-year profits increased to £632m in the six months to 31 March from £133m a year earlier.

Revenues were up 36.3% at £11.5bn, compared with the same period in 2021 and 6% below the equivalent figure in 2019. Its revenue run-rate was now above pre-pandemic levels, it said.

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The UK catering giant said it was facing soaring costs as a result of the war, as well as staff shortages and supply chain troubles. It said it was reviewing the prices it charges, but that efforts to offset these costs had so far paid off.

Compass added that rising inflation was helping drive a push towards outsourcing as schools and companies look to make savings.

The share price of the FTSE 100 (^FTSE) firm rose as much as 10.4% to 1,777p. They are currently up 7.9% to 1,702p at the time of writing. The company was the biggest riser on London's bluechip index.

Dominic Blakemore, the group’s chief executive, said that Compass had "seen a notable improvement" in business, industry and education trading as employees and students returned.

Blakemore added that the catering company was "mindful of global inflationary pressures", which have been exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, but saw it as an opportunity to win business as organisations looked to outsource more services.

"Net new business growth has been excellent, particularly in North America and Europe where we have mobilised a significant number of recent wins and benefited from our highest ever client retention rate," he concluded.

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Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: "Compass’ scale creates significant barriers to entry and helps it to keep tight control on costs despite surging inflation in food prices.

"If it has the appetite it feels like there is still a very large amount of market share for Compass to snaffle up. Despite its leading position in the global food service market its overall share is only just in the double digits with plenty of smaller regional operators and in-house providers from whom it could take business.

"And it feels significant that Compass has just posted the highest ever level of client retention on record."

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