Companies in the news: AG Barr & Britvic

Drinks groups AG Barr and Britvic will not be getting together. Phil Oakley looks at what this means for investors.

Drinks groups AG Barr (LSE: BAG)and Britvic (LSE: BVIC)will not be getting together.

This is a shame for Barr's shareholders, as its management could have made a great success of Britvic and struck a great price. A Competition Commission enquiry cleared the deal, but it has taken too long: a change of leader at Britvic has seen the firm move on on its own.

This leaves Barr shares trading on over 20 times forecast earnings, with the bottom line growing at around 10% next year. Without a transformational deal, this is too high.

There is talk of Barr bidding for GlaxoSmithKline's Ribena and Lucozade brands, but the asking price is likely to be steep due to lots of interest. The shares have gained 16% since I tipped them last October. I like this business, but it's time to take profits.

Britvic shares are up 14% since I tipped them in April and are cheaper on 16 times earnings. Cost cutting should drive profits for the next year or so, but it has to prove it can grow its sales consistently. They also look less attractive without a Barr tie-up. Take profits here too.

Verdict: take profits on both Barr and Britvic

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