Financial Analysis of Mitchells & Butlers 2007 Annual Report

Last Updated: 23 Mar 2023
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The following report is designed for the purpose of a business analysis. I have chosen to analyse Mitchells & Butlers PLC by firstly, looking closely at the annual report produced by the company over a two year period and secondly, by researching their financial activities further than the annual report explains. I will compare and contrast ratios to help give the reader a better understanding of the company’s profitability, liquidity, activity and leverage. Summary In my analysis of Mitchells and Butlers PLC accounts for the years ending 2007 and 2008 I found that the Group has a very complex financial structure.

Especially with the occurrence of a financial disaster which ended in the loss of two years worth of earnings, which, in turn resulted in the departure of the finance director and calls for further boardroom departures from the disgruntled shareholders. Mitchells & Butlers is a high geared business and therefore a risky investment venture. The company are well positioned in the market for long-term success but the ratios do let down the attractiveness of investment by their much lower percentage of current assets to current liabilities, high gearing and low net profit margins.

Brief Historical Background

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Mitchells & Butlers is one of the UK’s largest operators of managed establishments with a strong portfolio of branded and unbranded pubs and restaurants with a mass market appeal. Their popular brands include All Bar One, Harvester and Ember Inns. Founded in Smethwick Birmingham as a result of the Beerhouse Act of 1830 easing the law on domestic brewing, Henry Mitchell’s and William Butler’s breweries merged in 1989. The company acquired rival breweries and rapidly expanded and merged with Bass in 1961, emerging as Six Continents before separating into hotel and retail businesses and becoming Mitchells & Butlers once again.

Implication of Ratios on Mitchells & Butlers (M&B)’s Financial Position

Mitchells & Butlers Gross1 profit ratio for both 2008 and 2007 is 25% and 24. 9% respectively. An increase of 0. 1% is satisfactory during these trying times for Mitchells & Butlers PLC. This indicates that operating costs account for 75% of the sales revenue. These huge costs are largely down to M&B’s ‘value and volume’ strategy. The company feel they are well placed in the troubled economy as they offer great value for money. This strategy makes for a high sales turnover but not a huge mark up on the product.

They are constantly striving to be as efficient as possible and have a low paid and low skilled workforce to help combat high operating costs, and gain a competitive advantage. The Group have faced a turbulent year, dealing with the economic downturn in consumer spending and the inevitable decline in alcoholic beverage sales across the sector as a whole. This was not helped by the introduction of the smoking ban in England and Wales, following suit from Scotland and Northern Ireland, and costs such as fuel and energy spiralling ever higher.

It’s no surprise then, when we look at the Net Profit Margin and see that it has decreased by 1. 5% from 10. 9% in 2007 to 9. 4% in 2008. In the midst of a depression this decline is not too alarming. With a Gearing ratio 3 of 2. 4:1 in 2008 and 1. 5:1 in 2007 there is a high risk involved when investing in this company. From analysing M & B’s debt structure it seems further leveraging of its balance sheet would be difficult given the harsh, current conditions in debt markets. The Group’s pension fund deficit creates further problems when trying to attract prospective private equity buyers.

As you can see it has become a considerably higher geared company in 2008 and this is due to the considerable loss faced by the company in an unexpected twist in the Mitchells & Butlers story. When entering into a property venture with company R20, both groups were advised by the bank, as part of their loan agreement, to take out hedges against interest rates and inflation. This investment would prevent Mitchells & Butlers from losing as much money as they would have, had they not taken out the hedges in the instance that the market turned against them.

The bank also advised the companies to do this, two weeks prior to the investment being made as the hedges could take some time to execute. The hedges were purchased mid July, by the end of July the credit crunch had kicked in and the bank withdrew its credit approved terms. Both companies were left with hedges in place but no investment to back them against. M & B held onto their hedges until January 2008 hoping for an upturn in the market. By January 2008 it had become apparent that this was not going to happen and M&B disposed of them.

Using them would have been very risky, especially since finance director Naffah had already been let go. “At the end of last financial year, an exceptional accounting loss of ? 155m post tax was booked in respect of the hedges. The above settlement of the majority of the hedges results in a further ? 119m post tax exceptional loss which will be taken in the current year,” the company said in a statement. Looking equally bleak is M&B’s current ratio4 of 0. 888:1 in 2008 and 0. 391:1 in 2007.

Many believe that businesses must have a current ratio of at least 2:1 to survive, proving Michells & Butlers as an unorthodox company. Unbelievably it functions with a negative working capital6, this is due mainly to the company keeping stock levels impeccably low and thus giving the acid test a similar result with a quick ratio5 of 0. 794:1 in 2008 and 0. 343:1 in 2007. Most of the stock is perishable, for example food served in their restaurants. A stock turnover7 of 9. 95 days in 2008 and 9. 75 days in 2007 is quite acceptable in the food and beverage sector.

Low stock levels keep the business as liquid as possible. This gives the company some leverage when incorporated with the debtors8 and the creditor’s9 turnover which works out in favour of M&B’s debt structure. Debtors, pay-up within an average of 14. 3days. Contrast this with the creditors who give M&B, on average between the years 2007 and 2008, 66. 4 days of credit. That’s nearly five times as long as M&B allow their debtors. Another consideration I wish to highlight concerning the worryingly low current ratio is that for the most part M&B’s non-current assets are made up of property, plant and equipment.

If the company found themselves with cash flow problems these assets could become non-current assets held for sale to help increase the current ratio. Return on Capital employed10 is 20. 18% and 19. 7% in 2008 and 2007 respectively. This is evidence that M&B is still a profitable company contrary to the problems arising in the last two years and are still gaining market share year on year. A three year plan has been put in place to rectify the hedging mishap. Ordinary Shareholders will not receive any dividend pay-outs for the next year three years as well as board members forfeiting their bonuses in a bid to pay off their ? 74m deficit.

Cash Flow

How the inclusion of a Cash Flow helps in the Analysis of the company’s financial position? There are several advantages to preparing a cash flow statement along with the balance sheet and profit and loss account. The cash flow statement provides data which allows the reader to better understand where cash has come from, where cash has moved to, and why. If a company has no cash it cannot pay wages or bills or suppliers. Employers won’t come to work if you don’t pay them. Energy companies will cut off their supplies, as could the suppliers if the bills are not paid.

If this happens the company may not be able to operate. This is why cash flow statements should be taken seriously by managers and done as often as daily if cash flow is tight. The cash flow statement explains where the cash and cash equivalents on the balance sheet come from in greater detail. It takes operating profit and adds back exceptional items, depreciation and amortisation to give us a better understanding of how much cash is to hand, as well increases and decreases in debtors and creditors. In M&B’s cash flow statement we can see that in 2007 M&B acquired ? m worth of Whitbread Pub Restaurants and made additional pension contributions of? 40m. In the cash flow statement figures can be compared more easily, they also aide preparation of forecasts. In both years a considerable amount of cash is spent on property, plant and equipment. It may be that these assets have not had time to realise their full potential. We can see that M&B has increased its cash and cash equivalents by ? 12m at the end of 2008 compared to its previous year. Differences between the spread of cash year on year is quite apparent.

In 2008 shareholders received  480m worth of dividends less than in 2007 as part of M&B’s three year strategy to eliminate hedging debt amounting to around two years worth of earnings. Conclusion At first glance, the ratios I have calculated show the illusion of a company in the midst of a financial crisis. But Mitchells and Butlers are breaking all the rules and coming out with a profit, succeeding where many competitors are failing, due to the down turn in the alcoholic beverage market and consumer spending overall.

The hedging losses have no doubt affected a great deal of critical decision making regarding Mitchells and Butlers finances including investment attractiveness, risk taking and dividend payouts. The high amount of non-current assets is due to the extensive property portfolio which helps diffuse the worrying situation of such a low current and quick ratio. This company is constantly expanding and is year on year gaining market share. It adapts appropriately to its ever changing environment, as it keeps up to date with the economic climate and responds quickly to consumers needs.

The ‘value & volume’ strategy is working well and the brands are becoming very well established in the UK. Debt payment is accounted for in the long term financial plan and the future looks far from dismal. I see a company trying to be as efficient as possible whilst waiting for the storm to pass.

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Financial Analysis of Mitchells & Butlers 2007 Annual Report. (2018, Feb 17). Retrieved from

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