ITV shares helps pull up London markets

Love Island contestants learning to dance. The reality show has been credited with helping lift ITV out of a slump by increasing the channel's viewers PICTURE: ITV Plc
Ben Woods

SHARES in ITV helped drag the London market higher on yesterday, despite the broadcasting giant suffering a fall in half-year sales and profits.

The group saw statutory pre-tax profit slump 16 per cent to £259 million for the half year, but shares closed up 4.3p to 180.2p as the result was better than the market expected.

The FTSE 100 Index pushed ahead, rising 17.5 points to 7,452.32, with ITV also riding high after bagging a larger slice of the TV viewing time.

David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: "The TV show Love Island proved to be very popular with viewers, and there is to be (another) series of the show, and the TV channel will be more attractive for advertising slots.

"The firm increased its interim dividend and this kept shareholders onside.

"With the rise of streaming TV, traditional networks like ITV need to keep producing extremely popular shows to attract viewers, and in turn advertising revenue."

Across Europe, Germany's Dax rose by 0.3 per cent and the Cac 40 in France pushed 0.5 per cent higher.

On the currency markets, the pound warmed to the latest data on the UK economy, bouncing back after initially falling on the news.

Sterling was 0.1 per cent ahead versus the US dollar at 1.30, as gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 0.3 per cent for the second quarter, up from 0.2 per cent during the first three months of the year and in line with economists' expectations.

The UK currency was also up 0.3 per cent against the euro at 1.121, with a stronger performance from the services sector ensuring the economy eked out a small rebound for the second quarter.

However, Darren Morgan, ONS head of GDP, flagged that the British economy had experienced a "notable slowdown" in the first half of the year.

The price of oil broke through the psychologically important US$50 a barrel mark after a fall in US crude inventories encouraged traders that the market oversupply was tailing off.

Brent crude rose 1.4 per cent to US$50.90 a barrel.

In UK stocks, GlaxoSmithKline was among the biggest fallers after the pharma giant said it would offload more than 130 of its non-core brands as it extends a major cost-cutting programme that saw it announce 320 job cuts last week.

It is one of the first major moves by GSK under new chief executive Emma Walmsley, and is meant to help deliver an additional £1 billion in annual cost savings by 2020.

"A key driver of the new savings will be through realising efficiency improvements in the group's supply chain", GSK said.

Shares closed down more than 2 per cent, or 40.5p to 1,545.5p.

Away from the top tier, posh mixer maker Fever-Tree soared close to 5 per cent after its chief executive secured a £29m windfall by cashing in on the firm's recent success.

Tim Warrillow, who co-founded the group, sold 1.5 million shares in the business in what Fever-Tree said was a "response to demand from institutional investors".

The move reduces Mr Warrillow's stake to 5.4 per cent and comes just two months after another co-founder, deputy chairman Charles Rolls, banked £73m through a share sale.

Shares were up 102p to 2,160p

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 Index were ITV up 4.3p to 180.2p, Anglo American up 23.5p to 1,195p, Barratt Developments up 11.5p to 615p, G4S up 6.1p to 331.5p.

The biggest fallers were Paddy Power Betfair down 225p to 7,410p, GlaxoSmithKline down 40.5p to 1,545.5p, Sage Group down 8.5p to 692p, Provident Financial down 20p to 2,143p.

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