Are ITV plc, Sports Direct International plc and Thomas Cook Group plc true big cap bargains?

ITV (LSE: ITV) shares have fallen by 26% so far this year. The main reason for this seems to be that investors are concerned that falling advertising expenditure could hit profits.

Yet ITV has invested heavily to reduce its dependency on advertising, by producing and reselling much of its own content. Between January and March, non-advertising revenue rose by 34% to £428m. That’s 57% of the group’s total revenue.

This surge higher was helped by acquisitions during the period, but the underlying trend seems clear. Chief executive Adam Crozier has invested heavily in ITV’s Studio business and this has delivered results.

I suspect concerns about falling advertising sales may be overdone. However, ITV’s earnings growth is expected to slow to about 6% next year, so I’d be looking for a fairly cautious valuation if buying today.

The stock currently trades on a 2016 forecast P/E of 11.6 with a prospective yield of 4.4%. That seems reasonable to me, although not necessarily a true bargain.

Is the tide turning?

Shareholders in Sports Direct International (LSE: SPD) have had a torrid time this year. The sportswear retailer’s shares have fallen by 35% in the face of poor trading and a wave of bad PR.

Among all of this, it’s been easy to lose sight of the fact that founder Mike Ashley and his team are skilled retailers who’ve built a profitable and successful business. Sports Direct’s 9% operating margin is higher than many other sports and fashion retailers.

The firm also has a strong balance sheet, with almost no debt. The shares now look relatively cheap, on a forecast P/E of 10.5 times 2016 earnings. Although I’d prefer to see the firm pay a dividend, I can’t argue with Sports Direct’s growth record.

After a period of earnings downgrades, the outlook appears to be improving. Analysts’ earnings forecasts have edged higher over the last month. Unless you believe the business has fundamental problems, now could be a good time to take a closer look at Sports Direct.

Will late bookings come through?

How safe is the UK’s economic recovery? That seems to be the question behind the current weakness in Thomas Cook Group (LSE: TCG) shares, which have fallen by 28% so far this year.

Thomas Cook has now got its debts under control and the group returned to profit last year. Adjusted earnings are expected to rise by about 40% this year and Thomas Cook is expected to restart dividend payments. A payout of 2.1p per share is forecast, giving a potential yield of 2.4%.

Despite this, investors appear to be losing confidence in the firm’s recovery. Thomas Cook says that terrorist attacks have affected consumer confidence. Only 40% of the firm’s summer holidays were booked by late March, down from more than 50% at the same time last year.

Thomas Cook shares currently trade on just 8.2 times forecast earnings for the current year, falling to 6.8 times 2017 forecast earnings. If the firm can deliver results in line with these forecasts then the shares ought to go up. The question is whether late bookings will help the firm hit profit targets without slashing prices.

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Roland Head has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Sports Direct International. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.