ITV Stock Hits 52-Week High

2:19 PM PST 11/13/2012 by Georg Szalai

The U.K. TV giant's third-quarter financials were better than analysts had expected despite an Olympics hit to advertising revenue.

LONDON - The stock of U.K. TV networks operator ITV on Tuesday hit a 52-week high after analysts said a third-quarter financial update was better than they had expected despite an Olympics hit to advertising revenue.

In London trading, ITV shares rose to as much as $1.53 (96.10 pence), setting a new high for the past year. They closed up 9 percent at $1.50. That gave the company a market capitalization of $5.87 billion (3.7 billion pounds).

Earlier in the day, ITV had reported lower advertising revenue for the third quarter as the Summer Olympics coverage on public broadcaster BBC dragged down the company's ratings, and marketers spent money elsewhere. But the company's ITV Studios content production arm once again reported strong growth.

Barclays Capital analyst Julien Roch reiterated his "equal weight" rating on ITV's stock, but boosted his financial forecast and raised his price target. "ITV surprised positively again on results with content and cost savings leading to a 5 percent increase in our earnings per share forecasts, which is reflected in a similar share price target increase," he said. "From now on, we consider ITV a call on continuing beat on content, online, costs and interest versus potential weakness in advertising."

Claudio Aspesi, analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, also lauded the latest results. "Net advertising revenue still ahead of [the] market," he highlighted in his report. "ITV Studios has a bright present and even brighter future."

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com
Twitter: @georgszalai

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