Saturday 21 April 2018

ITV shares rise after 11pc gain in first-half sales

Michelle Dockery playing Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
Michelle Dockery playing Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey

John Ainger

ITV shares rose the most in two years after the 'Downton Abbey' broadcaster posted an 11pc gain in first-half sales, aided by the Euro 2016 tournament and its growing studio production business.

Revenue, adjusted for internal sales, of £1.5bn (€1.78bn) in the period through June 30 met analysts' forecasts.

ITV said in a statement yesterday that while advertising was flat in the run-up to the UK vote to leave the European Union, it is targeting about £25m in expense reductions, including job cuts, in 2017, given the uncertainties ahead.

ITV has been working to reduce its reliance on advertising, posting 31pc revenue growth at its production and distribution arm, ITV Studios, and a 26pc increase at its online businesses in the first half.

Non-advertising revenue now accounts for more than half of the London-based company's sales, helping to offset any potential drop-off in companies' marketing budgets as the UK's exit from the EU begins to bite.

"The whole point of what we've done is to rebalance the company, make it more robust, make it less reliant on one source of revenue, and less reliant on the UK," chief executive officer Adam Crozier said.

ITV stock rose as much as 8.1pc in early trading in London, the steepest intraday advance since July 17, 2014. (Bloomberg)

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