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Fevertree blames massive growth slowdown on the Great British weather

The cooler summer weather so far means people are sipping fewer G&Ts than they were this time last year

fevertree drinks
In the first half of 2017 – only two years ago – Fevertree reported sales growth of almost 120%

Shares in Fevertree Drinks PLC (LON:FEVR) plunged on Tuesday morning as the posh tonic maker’s growth slowed to a crawl in the first half of the year.

In the six months to the end of June, underlying earnings (EBITDA) rose 8% to £36.7mln (H1 18: £34.0mln) on revenue of £117.3mln (H1 18: £104.2mln) – a 13% year-on-year increase.

READ: Fevertree warns it'll be tricky to top last year's performance

That’s a massive slowdown compared with this time last year, when Fevertree reported top-line growth of 45%. A year before that it boasted a 77% surge in sales.

Much of the weak performance was down to the UK – Fevertree’s home market which still accounts for more than a half of all revenue.

Bad weather to blame

Growth in the UK slowed to just 5% in the first half of the year. In the opening six months of 2017, Fevertree managed to more than double its sales. Even last year, revenue surged by 45%.

“As expected, following several years of exceptional growth, the first half of 2019 has seen a moderation in both Fever-Tree's and the wider UK mixer category's underlying growth rates, to what still remains strong levels but off a higher base,” said chief executive and co-founder Tim Warrillow.

“In addition, as has been widely reported across many sectors, the poor weather in the past quarter has had a dampening effect on growth rates in the short term as we lap what was an incredibly strong period of trading in summer 2018.”

US sales jump

There was some better news in the US, though, which analysts believes holds the key to Fevertree’s long-term success.

Sales across the pond jumped by a third to £19.8mln (H1 18: £15.1mln), validating the firm’s decision to take direct control of operations over there last summer.

Fevertree has managed to grow its presence in major national supermarkets such as Walmart and Target, while its tie-up with alcohol distribution giant SGWS “continues to develop well”.

No guidance upgrade

Looking ahead, there was no upgrade to forecasts, something which the market has almost come to expect from the company.

Instead, bosses said they still expect to hit their full-year targets, although they “remain mindful of the tough comparators” over the rest of the summer months in the UK.

Shares were down almost 9% to 2,098.9p on Tuesday morning.

Quick facts: Fevertree Drinks PLC

Price: 2004 GBX

AIM:FEVR
Market: AIM
Market Cap: £2.33 billion
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