ITV is hopeful it can revisit on target because the UK comes out of lockdown, Domino’s Pizza remains as popular as ever, Vodafone prices the Vantage Towers IPO, WH Smith cuts its cash burn, and M&G is pleased with its performance during its first year as an independent company.

Top News: ITV beats expectations and sees ‘positive trends’ in early 2021

ITV reported lower revenue and profits thanks to the disruption caused in 2020 by the pandemic, but said it performed better than expected and was encouraged by its outlook now that the united kingdom roadmap out of lockdown is in situ .

The UK’s largest commercial television network said revenue was down 16% in 2020 at £3.26 billion. Revenue from ITV Studios was down 25% as lockdown rules disrupted filming and productions, while Broadcast revenue was down 8% as companies cutback on advertising on traditional TV channels.

Adjusted Earnings before interest, tax, and amortisation was down 21% to £573 million, driven by a 43% decline from Studios and a 9% dip from Broadcast.

Adjusted earnings per share dropped 22% to 10.9 pence from 13.9p, while reported EPS plunged 40% to 7.1p from 11.8p.

ITV won't pay a dividend for 2020, having paid out 8.0p for 2019. ITV said it recognises the importance of payouts which it intends to resume them ‘as soon as circumstances permit’.

‘While total revenues and profits were down our financial performance was before expectations driven by a robust end to Q4 and our firm control over costs,’ said chief executive Carolyn McCall.

‘We are encouraged by the roadmap out of lockdown. We are seeing more positive trends within the advertising market in March and April and therefore the majority of our programmes are now back in production. However, there remains uncertainty altogether markets round the world with the potential risk of lockdowns, which if they materialise will affect revenues,’ she added.

ITV is increasingly confident going forward. About 90% of productions at ITV Studios have resumed and its hit shows do well. Love Island is now in 20 countries while Snowpiercer, made for Netflix, has recently been commissioned for a 3rd season.

In terms of advertising, ITV said it expects total advertising revenue to be down around 6% within the half-moon of 2021, again driven by lower TV advertising but double-digit growth in adverts on its streaming services. ‘We are now seeing more positive trends, with March expected to be up around 8% and April expected to be up between 60% and 75%, with the four months to the top of April up between 5% and seven ,’ ITV said.

Where next for the ITV share price?

ITV shares have dropped over 6% in early trade. However, it found support on the ascending trendline dating back to late September.

The share price also remains above its 50 & 100 sma therefore the establish bull trend remains intact for now. 

The bears would wish to interrupt down support at 112p today’s low and line support so as to check the 50 sma at 110p. an opportunity through this level could negate the present bullish trend. A move below the 100 sma at 100p could see the bearish movement gain momentum.

Any recovery would look to focus on the yearly high at 122p.Demand for Domino’s Pizza grows during lockdown

Domino’s Pizza Group said sales, profits and cashflow all improved during 2020 as demand for pizza delayed during the pandemic, prompting it to lift its dividend and launch a share buyback programme.

Sales rose to £1.34 billion within the year to December 27, up from £1.21 billion the year before. Like-for-like system sales jumped 10.3%, accelerating from 3.7% in 2019.

Underlying Earnings before interest and tax inched up to £109.0 million from £105.3 million, whilst underlying pretax profit edged up to £101.2 million from £98.8 million. Reported pretax profit increased to £98.9 million from £75.1 million.

Free cashflow improved significantly during the year after growing by 73% to £99 million, allowing Domino’s to chop debt by 26%, pay a complete dividend of 9.1 pence for the year, and launch a replacement £45 million share buyback programme.

Domino’s said it's still getting to deliver system sales of £1.6 billion to £1.9 billion over the medium-term. this may be driven by growing its delivery business, with around 95% of its UK orders now made online, and by opening 200 new stores. It said it's ‘turbo-charging’ the gathering business that has been hit hard during the pandemic as people occupy home and is getting to double its market share.

‘Trading within the current fiscal year has started strongly with exceptional trading over the New Year period as we recorded our highest ever sales week. Our delivery business continues to perform alright , and collection remains at around 60% of 2019 levels,’ said the corporate .

‘We have demonstrated we've a versatile and robust business model that has been ready to adapt to the uncertain and changing market conditions throughout 2020. the present trends and demand expectations, additionally to the investment in capabilities we've and are making, gives us confidence in delivering further operational and financial progress within the coming year,’ Domino’s added.

Domino’s shares were up 8.9% in early trade at 338.1.

WH Smith shares rise because it reduces cash burn

WH Smith said it performed better than expected since the beginning of the year despite footfall continuing to suffer during lockdown, allowing it to scale back its cash burn.

The retailer said it now expects to burn through between £12 million to £17 million through January to March 2021, compared to the £15 million to £20 million range provided in January.

WH Smith said its main street business has performed better than expected since the beginning of the year, with revenue in January down 26% year-on-year and just 16% lower in February.

‘Within our main street business, we still see significant growth from our online businesses. Our online greeting cards business,, saw record sales for the Valentine Day period,’ said WH Smith.

Its Travel business, encompassing stores at travel hubs like airports and train stations, has been harder hit. WH Smith said North America had continued to be its best performing market but overall revenue was down 65% year-on-year in January and 67% in February. 

The company also said it's secured an extension to a number of its loans to offer it more breathing space. Two £200 million term loans will now mature in October 2023 and new parameters are agreed for covenant tests. WH Smith said this has allowed it to cancel an unused £120 million facility.

WH Smith will publish interim results on April 29.

WH Smith shares were up 0.6% in early trade at 1918.5.

Vodafone to value Vantage Towers IPO at up to EUR14.7 billion

Vodafone said it's targeting a valuation of between EUR11.4 billion to EUR14.7 billion for Vantage Towers, its towers infrastructure business that's being spun-off later this year through an initial public offering.

Vodafone said Vantage Towers shares are going to be priced between EUR22.50 to EUR29.00 per share under the IPO. the bottom offer size will see EUR2 billion worth of shares issued, but Vodafone said it can upsize the offer by up to 40% to EUR2.8 billion.

Notably, it's already secured some major investors. Infrastructure investor Digital Colony has become a cornerstone investor by purchasing EUR500 million worth of shares whilst another, global equity fund RRJ, will invest EUR450 million.

‘The Vantage Towers IPO is moving ahead at pace. Today's price range announcement is amid the news that two leading global investors have committed to cornerstone our IPO with the acquisition of EUR950 million of shares at the asking price ,’ said Vantage Towers chief executive Vivek Badrinath.

‘Demand for data and connectivity across Europe is powering growth within the towers sector. Our superior grid and leading market positions mean we are well placed to profit from this growth and our recent financial results highlighted the great commercial and operational momentum across the business,’ he added.

Vantage Towers is predicted to start trading on the Frankfurt stock market ‘on or around 18 March 2021’.M&G delivers ‘strong and resilient’ performance in first year

M&G said it delivered a ‘strong and resilient performance’ during its first year as a standalone company despite ‘one of the foremost challenging operating environments ever’ amid the pandemic.

The company, which was spun-out of Prudential in late 2019, said it spent the year laying the foundations to return the business to growth by fixing its Retail Asset Management division and creating M&G Wealth following the acquisition of Ascentric.

Assets under management increased to £367.2 billion in 2020 from £351.5 billion in 2019.

Adjusted operating profit fell to £788 million from £1.14 billion while reported profit after tax rose to £1.14 billion from £1.06 billion.

Total capital generation fell to £955 million from £1.50 billion and its shareholder solvency II coverage ratio strengthened to its highest level since it became an independent business at 182%. M&G can pay a dividend of 12.23 pence for the year.

‘Our record has remained robust throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and capital generation was strong at £995 million for the year,’ said chief executive John Foley. ‘We remain committed to our ambitious three-year £2.2 billion target for total capital generation to the top of 2022 and to our current policy of a stable or increasing dividend.’

M&G shares were up 6.2% in early trade at 215.75.