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Sunday share tips: Science in Sport, Merlin Entertainment

Sun 07 July 2019 18:41 | A A A

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(Sharecast News) - While protein supplements were principally seen as the beverage of choice for muscle-bound gym goers for some time, Sam Chambers at the Times called them "a potential gold mine" on Sunday.

After AIM-listed sports nutrition retailer Science in Sport acquired protein brand PhD Nutrition for £32m back in November, the group instantly doubled in size.

Chambers noted the despite its partnerships with Manchester United and British Cycling, and having "credibility in spades", Science in Sport was yet to turn a profit since listing in 2013.

"Can protein bars and tubs of whey powder now pump up its bottom line?", he asked.

"The protein push puts Science in Sport into competition with Myprotein, part of the Hut Group's rapidly growing stable of online brands. Myprotein has an 18% share of the UK's protein market, almost three times that of Science in Sport," said Chambers.

Chambers, who hit SIS with a 'hold' rating, added that the company had "a solid base" as it makes its own products, with "healthy" gross margins and a 25% sales growth year-on-year over the last five years.

"It is estimated that the enlarged group will generate about £52m of sales this year," he wrote in his Inside the City column.

"However, big acquisitions are prone to complications, and Science in Sport does not have a proven record. It's worth waiting for proof before rushing in."

With the hype surrounding the next Legoland park opening sixty miles north-west of New York already going into "overdrive", James Ashton at the Telegraph took a fresh look at Merlin Entertainment on Sunday.

While the new visitor centre will not begin admitting fans until next spring, Ashton pointed out that the company behind it was "gushing" about the 50 attractions it will offer.

However, Ashton noted the park was "not cheap" to build.

"Merlin Entertainments, the parent firm with attractions including Madame Tussauds and Thorpe Park in Surrey, has spent something like £250m on this single site. Developments such as Legoland New York help to explain why the company agreed to a £4.8bn takeover late last month that will see it go private after less than six years in the FTSE 100."

Ashton said much of Merlin's long-term growth prospects depended on the opening of Legoland parks.

"Once New York is up and running, all eyes turn to the next prospect, in South Korea. But long before kids will be enjoying the Ninjago ride, the cost of construction is sitting on the group's balance sheet," he wrote in this week's edition of Questor for the Telegraph.

He also highlighted that with plans for many more Legolands in Asia, the spending "will go on".

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