ITV plc reports 14% rise in sales despite uncertain advertising market

Shares in ITV (LSE: ITV) have fallen by 2% today despite the broadcaster announcing a strong set of first-quarter results. The company’s top line increased by 14% versus the prior period, with it standing at £755m. This was due to impressive performance in ITV’s various segments, with Broadcast & Online revenue rising by 2% and Online, Pay & Interactive sales increasing by 17%.

Meanwhile, ITV Studios’ revenue was driven higher by acquisitions. It was up 44% versus the first quarter of the previous year. Encouragingly, ITV’s share of viewing increased by 3% in the quarter, with ITV Family share of viewing rising by 1%.

Looking ahead, ITV is on track to record double-digit revenue growth in Online, Pay & Interactive, with ITV Studios expected to deliver double-digit sales and profit growth for the full  year. However, the company is experiencing a challenging advertising market, which has been the case since the debate surrounding Brexit began. As such, the coming weeks and potentially months could see ITV’s financial performance come under a degree of pressure, although with a sound business model it looks set to outperform the wider UK television advertising market.

Strategy on target

A key reason for that is the strategy which ITV has pursued in recent years. It has sought to become more diversified and better balanced, with organic growth being aided by acquisitions. This has allowed ITV to increase its bottom line in each of the last five years, with it rising at an annualised rate of almost 21% during the period. While earnings growth of 8% this year and 7% next year may be somewhat lower than that achieved in the past, given the difficult trading conditions ITV is experiencing that would still represent a good result on a relative basis.

With ITV trading on a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 11.8, its shares appear to be very attractively priced. The key reason for that, of course, is the fall in ITV’s share price since the turn of the year, with its valuation declining by 24% year-to-date. Clearly, investor sentiment towards the company is weak and with the potential for Brexit hurting its financial performance, there’s a good chance that ITV’s share price will come under further pressure during the coming weeks and months, as the Brexit vote gets ever closer.

However, this presents a superb buying opportunity because ITV remains a high quality business that’s in a strong position to deliver upbeat growth in the long run. With its shares having a price-to-earnings-growth (PEG) ratio of just 1.6, they seem to offer a sufficiently wide margin of safety to merit purchase at the present time. Furthermore, ITV currently yields 3.5% from a dividend covered 2.4 times by profit. And due to its strong cash flow, ITV’s income appeal is likely to increase, thereby making it a sound income, growth and value play for the long term.

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Peter Stephens owns shares of ITV. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.