ITV (LSE: ITV) may have endured a year to forget in 2017 — its share value slumping by a fifth during the 12-month period — my belief in the investibility of the FTSE 100 giant remains undimmed.
Advertising conditions remain weak, of course, but momentum is improving. ITV itself noted in November that it’s seen some fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies and grocers returning to TV advertising in recent months.
Of course, the turnaround is likely to be slow and steady. But patient investors are likely to be well rewarded to stay the course, particularly as the broadcaster’s ITV Studios arm continues to pull up trees (revenues here jumped 9% during January-September), and expansion overseas offers plenty of sales opportunities.
ITV is expected to recover from an anticipated 9% earnings fall in 2017, with a 1% rise this year, and a 5% advance in 2019. And this is expected to support dividends of 9p next year, up from a predicted 7.8p for 2017, and 9.7p for the current period.
This means that share pickers can enjoy bulky yields of 5.4% for 2018 and 5.9% for 2019.
Pushing the envelope
A brilliant-but-battered share I have long championed currently sitting outside the Footsie index is Royal Mail (LSE: RMG).
Britain’s oldest courier had previously found itself subject to salvos of serious selling activity, and it appeared 2017 would be yet another washout for the FTSE 250 business. But November’s half-year report reminded investors of just what a great long-term bet it remains, and prompted plenty of buyers to barge in. Royal Mail market value has swelled 25% in the nine weeks since then.
It’s no secret that the letters market is in a state of serious decline. This was borne out in January’s subsequent update when a 5% decline in related volumes during April-December (stripping out traffic related to last summer’s general election) was reported.
Still, there was plenty in the release for glass-half-full investors to get their teeth into. Competition in the UK parcels market may be tough, but Royal Mail can still look forward to steady revenues growth here as the growth of e-commerce underpins demand for the company’s vans and posties. Indeed, package volumes at home jumped 6% during the first nine months of last year.
I’m also very excited by the sales opportunities in Royal Mail’s continental GLS division. The arm, which accounts for more than a third of operating profit, gives the business that little bit more diversification, providing protection should Britain’s slowing economy dent parcels traffic in the near-term. And aggressive M&A activity on the mainland is laying the groundwork for sustained progress here.
While the stage appears set for solid earnings growth in the years ahead, City analysts are expecting the bottom line at Royal Mail to suffer in the immediate future. In the years to March 2018 and 2019, declines of 10% and 0.1%, respectively, are forecast, reflecting ongoing woes in the letters market and the cost of massive restructuring.
But this isn’t expected to prove a barrier to further dividend growth. Brokers are predicting that fiscal 2017’s reward of 23p per share will rise to 24p in the current year, and again to 25.1p in the next period. As a consequence, investors can enjoy vast yields of 5.1% for 2018 and 5.4% for 2019.
Royston Wild has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended ITV. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.