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Whitbread: shares advance on Costa sale speculation

( - Whitbread shares are heading back to the 4,000 pence mark on Wednesday on speculation that the company could put its Costa coffee chain up for sale.

The hospitality group's shares are currently up about 0.2% to 3,979 pence in morning trading after Barclays Capital asked "what if Whitbread decides to sell Costa and its real estate?"

"We estimate that under such a scenario the "sum of the parts" value could be 4,700 pence in our upside case to 5,700 pence in our blue sky scenario," the broker answered.

BarCap, which cites the arrival of an activist investor (Sachem Head) amongst Whitbread's shareholders, has hence increased its target price to 3,920 pence, reflecting a higher multiple for Costa given what it sees as an increased likelihood of a sale.

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