ITV Sales Growth Accelerates as Content Production Arm Expands

ITV Plc reported revenue growth that accelerated in the third quarter as the owner of the U.K.’s biggest commercial TV station continued to focus on acquisitions of production assets and creating content.

Nine-month external revenue rose 6 percent to 1.66 billion pounds ($2.7 billion), the London-based company said in a statement today. That compared with a 1 percent advance in the first half. The company predicted cost savings of 25 million pounds for 2013, 5 million pounds more than its initial target.

ITV, whose shows include “Downton Abbey” and “X Factor,” has been reducing its dependence on advertising by investing in online growth, content creation and pay-TV productions. An improved TV advertising market will help ITV deliver double-digit revenue growth in its online, pay and interactive TV division, the broadcaster said.

“ITV has released an encouraging third-quarter update and we are raising our forecasts by 2 percent to 3 percent for both 2013 and 2014,” Paul Richards, a media analyst at Numis Securities in London, said in a note, citing progress at the ITV Studios production arm.

ITV shares rose as much as 2.8 percent, and were down 0.5 percent at 185.90 pence as of 8:47 a.m. in London, paring the advance to 77 percent this year and giving the company a market value of about 7.5 billion pounds.

“ITV is now a stronger and more balanced business and as we move into 2014 we will continue to see growth across the company,” the company said. “We expect good growth in ITV Studios, primarily driven by our recent acquisitions.”

Net advertising sales from ITV Family rose 11 percent in the third quarter and is expected to increase about 2 percent for the full year, “broadly in line with our estimate of the U.K. television advertising market,” the company said.

Revenue at ITV Studios increased by 11 percent in the first nine months, and the company forecast a “strong” fourth quarter for the division.

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