Shares in the owner of Costa Coffee are surging after a strong set of results

LONDON — Shares in Whitbread, the owner of Costa Coffee and Premier Inn, have popped close to 5% in morning trade on Wednesday after the company reported better than expected results in the first quarter of 2017.

Whitbread’s Premier Inn chain of budget hotels exceeded expectations for the start of the year, growing like-for-like sales by 4.7% against a forecast of around 2.9% from analysts prior to the release. That was more than doubled the 2.1% sales growth witnessed in the same period in 2016.

Overall, Whitbread grew sales by 7.6%, which was broadly in line with expectations.

“Our continued drive to grow and innovate in our core UK businesses, focus on our strengths internationally and build capabilities to support long-term growth, combined with our ongoing cost efficiency programme, gives us confidence that we will make further good progress this year,” Alison Brittain, Whitbread’s CEO said.

Understandably, investors are pretty pleased with the numbers, and shares have taken off as a result. By 9.15 a.m. BST shares are up close to 5% at 4,044p, or £40.44 each, as the chart below shows:

Commenting on the results in an email, Nicholas Hyett, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, writes: “These results are pretty solid all things considered. They don’t show the spectacular growth of years past, but the UK business is a more mature animal than it was and that is inevitably going to slow growth.

“Against a rather chilly economic backdrop Whitbread has delivered growth across the board, with 1.1% growth in Costa particularly welcome after it posted negative like-for-likes in the last quarter of 2016.”

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