City pours water on ITV Plc’s parade

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The jury appears to be out on ITV PLC (LSE:ITV), based on Thursday’s broker coverage.


It follows Wednesday’s trading update in which the broadcaster said it expected advertising to hit record levels in 2021.


The euphoria that followed the announcement has been swiftly met with the metaphorical bucket of cold water by analysts at Barclays Capital.


They believe 2021 ad revenues will decline by a below-consensus 3%.


“Next year’s advertising momentum and valuation is why we are equal weight,” Barclays said, explaining stock recommendation.


“That said, investors convinced that advertising will grow next year should see this as an opportunity because this would prove the view extolled by management in yesterday’s seminar on commercial.


“They claim to have transformed the business from linear viewing-advertising to linear plus on-demand-targeted advertising.


“This can be done (TV4 in Sweden has done it), but it requires very strong execution and ITV does not yet provide enough KPIs to track their progress.”


UBS, by contrast, is a little less sceptical with its ‘buy’ recommendation. It cites the current bargain-basement valuation as the driver of its 155p price target, which has been tweaked 5p higher following ITV’s trading statement.


The brief line on the stock was accompanied by this rather cryptic quote: “Can we now dream of a multiple re-rate if TV growth is structural?” Fortune cookies stuff.


The shares, up 15% in the year to date, were changing hands for 124p each. The consensus price target is 142p. Of the 15 analysts following the stock, eight are positive, four hold neutral recommendations and three are negative on the stock.

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