STOCK Americana
Americana's IPO last November was an instant success, and the restaurant operator had even increased the size of the UAE retail offer due to demand. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: The Middle East’s biggest restaurant operator Americana helped itself to a healthy 27.1 per cent profit growth for 2022, to $259.2 million against the $203.91 million in the pre-IPO year of 2021. Revenues weighed in with $2.37 billion and up from the $2.05 billion a year before.

Listed on ADX and Saudi Tadawul, Americana went through a hugely successful IPO late last year, and with the generated funds meant for further expansion. Americana, who operates the Pizza Hut and KFC franchises among many, is currently trading at Dh3.84 and had seen a 6.8 per cent rise on Monday (February 13). (It had priced its shares at Dh2.62 in the offer.)

These are prelim results and do not give a mention of the likely dividend payout for the year. “The market and investors would expect at least 50 per cent distribution – the stock’s activity on Monday (February 13) suggests a keenness on the part of investors,” said an analyst.

Dividend lookout

Americana, whose Chairman is Mohammed Alabbar, had recorded a first day surge on listing and has continued the momentum since. “The stock is up by almost 46 per cent since the listing and, post-earnings, looks to grow even stronger,” said Vijay Valecha, Chief Investment Officer at Century Financial. “The stock looks like a good long-term pick, although dividend payout status is not be very clear as yet.

We should expect at least 50 per cent payout, and the company has good cash reserves to be paying out dividends ideally.

- Vijay Valecha of Century Financial

What's cooking on expansion?

Americana has been adding the first set of stores for its newly acquired franchise, the specialty coffee brand Peet's. According to retail industry sources, this would be the tack the company would increasingly take - introduce niche brands that would come with higher margins, while expanding with its legacy brands - KFC, Pizza Hut, etc. - in relatively underserved markets.

"The outside-of-home F&B industry still has some growth phase to get through in the Middle East - there are no signs as yet that consumers in the GCC have drastically cut down on their food spending or on outings because of inflation," said a retail analyst.