Integrated pub retailer and brewer Greene King (LSE: GNK) shares have been sliding for some time, and by the end of March this year they were trading around 50% lower than they did in December 2015. However, this month's pre-close trading statement appears to have sent the shares shooting up again and they've advanced around 25% from the lows.
A compelling valuation
However, even at recent share price levels, the valuation looks compelling. The forward price-to-earnings (P/E) rating for the trading year to April 2020 runs close to nine and the forward dividend yield is a chunky-looking 5.8%. After slipping by around 12% in the current year to the end of April, earnings look set to come in more or less flat the following year. City analysts predict a 3% increase in earnings for the year to April 2020 that should cover the dividend payment just under twice.
In the recent statement, the company told us that although adverse weather had affected like-for-like sales during the year, trading over the Easter period was "strong". Like-for-like sales over the Easter weekend were 2.8% higher than the Easter period last year, "helped by strong sporting fixtures, especially football and boxing." The trading environment remains challenging, but the directors think that a £10m investment made during the second half of the year "to strengthen our value for money, customer service and quality" is starting to boost trading.
Opening new pubs
The company opened nine new pubs during the year, which is welcome news after we've become used to so many pubs closing down in recent years. I think ongoing expansion like that demonstrates that the business formula is working. Meanwhile, the firm expects to achieve cost savings between £40m and £45m and to receive around £120m on the disposal of three high-value leasehold pubs. Such ongoing nipping and tucking should help the firm sustain its dividend in the years to come. The directors are optimistic saying, "we remain well placed to withstand the external market challenges and deliver long-term value to our shareholders."
Meanwhile, the shares of bus and rail operator Go-Ahead Group (LSE: GOG) have been perky lately, up around 43% since February. A better-than-expected half-year report kicked off the move higher with the directors telling us that their full-year expectations had increased "due to one-off rail benefits" and in-line trading in the firm's bus contracts.
A strong bid pipeline
Go-Ahead is getting ready to start a Dublin bus contract and three German rail contracts in 2018 and 2019 respectively and has a "strong" bid pipeline "in our target international markets" over the next few years. Nevertheless, City analysts following it expect earnings to shrink 11% during the year to June 2019 with the dividend being held firm at the previous year's level.
Even after the recent rise in the stock, the valuation looks attractive with the forward dividend yield running above 5% for the year to June 2019. I think both these FTSE 250 big-yielders are worth your further research time right now.
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Kevin Godbold has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.