Investors switch onto broadcaster ITV

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The group is benefiting from rating winners such as 'I'm a Celebrity'.

While many were desperate to escape the jungle in this year’s series of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here, investors were buying into ITV (Xetra: A0BLQP - news) on the back of the show’s popularity.

The company was among the biggest blue-chip risers after Panmure Gordon said the programme affirmed the group’s position in entertainment broadcasting.

“According to ITV, the final of I’m a Celebrity had a peak audience of 10.6m, which was a 47pc share of TV viewers,” the broker said. “This is significant because the ability to deliver major prime-time audiences is key to advertising and, in turn, content/format sales.”

Panmure, which has a “buy” rating on the broadcaster and a target price of 140p, added that ITV continues to be “attractively valued”. Shares in the company gained 1½ to 100.4p.

Elsewhere, analysts at JPMorgan Cazenove were looking ahead and marking out which shares to buy and which to steer clear of next year. Among the broker’s “top picks” for 2013 were Ophir Energy , 10½ higher at 508½p and Rio Tinto (Berlin: CRA1.BE - news) , up 26½p at £31.20.

Oilrig maker Lamprell (Berlin: L51.BE - news) , which unveiled James Moffat as its new chief executive, was branded a company to avoid and the shares shed 2 to 86¼p. Pub group JD Wetherspoon , down 3 at 541p, and hedge fund manager Man Group , which edged up 0.2 to 77p, were among companies investors should not be adding to their portfolios, the broker said.

Others were busy speculating about the performance of the FTSE 100 during the remainder of 2012, with Angus Campbell, head of market analysis at Capital Spreads, pointing out that the index has risen in 23 of the past 28 Decembers.

However, the blue-chips got the final month of the year off to a less than impressive start, adding just 4.42 points to 5,871.24. While encouraging manufacturing data from China lifted investors’ spirits early in the day, data showing a contraction in US manufacturing dampened sentiment in the afternoon.

Fund manager Schroders (Berlin: PYX.BE - news) was a strong performer on the blue-chip index, bolstered by an upgrade to “buy” from “neutral” at Bank of America Merrill Lynch (AMEX: LGL - news) .

“The company is now strongly diversified, with a thriving multi-asset franchise to add to its equity and fixed-income businesses,” the broker said. “It has also done a very good job of broadening its distribution profile, with its organic expansion in the US a clear success.”

The shares advanced 25p to £16.21 on the recommendation.

Also among the FTSE 100 risers was software company Sage Group (Other OTC: SGGEF.PK - news) , which gained 2.9 to 314½p ahead of its full-year results on Wednesday.

On the FTSE 250 down 6.78 points at 12,027.44 Cable & Wireless Communications jumped as high as 37.14p before losing some ground and closing up 0.4 -1.2pc- at 35.1p after confirming the sale of its Monaco and Islands division, in a deal worth as much as $1bn (£620m). Espirito Santo said investors would be pleased, because the deal was “perceived as difficult to execute due to the geographic spread of the assets and the requirement to try and align eleven different governments”.

“We are now more confident in management’s ability to execute deals at good multiples, which is pertinent as we believe negotiations to sell [the Macau business] are still on-going.”

CWC confirmed last month that it was in talks to offload a controlling interest in Macau’s biggest telecoms company.

Mid-cap media group Informa (Dusseldorf: 10163162.DU - news) also climbed higher, following re-heated bid speculation last week. The shares put on 8.9 to 429.3p.

Construction and infrastructure company Balfour Beatty (Other OTC: BAFBF.PK - news) , which today held an investor day and sounded a profit warning in November (Xetra: A0Z24E - news) , dipped 3.1 to 255.2p. Investec (EUREX: INVF.EX - news) analyst Andrew Gibb said at the start of the trading session that he was sticking with his “sell” recommendation.

“There will be a time to reconsider our negative stance on Balfour Beatty, but it does not feel that the time is now,” he added. “The sharp erosion in cash and profits is very difficult to ignore and raises many questions. In order to move the stock off our sell list, we would have to discount the probability of further disappointments.”

Meanwhile, transport group Stobart remained on the back foot following the cancellation of a bond sale last Monday. The shares have fallen every day bar one since the announcement, and today declined a further 5.35 to 96¼p, taking Stobart to its lowest level since May 2009.

Lower down the scale, a positive write-up of Enterprise Inns (LSE: ETI.L - news) from Deutsche Bank (Xetra: 514000 - news) saw investors snap up shares in the pub group. The broker forecast a 0.5pc increase in like-for-like net income growth in the 2013 financial year, and 1pc in both 2014 and 2015.

The company has been cutting debt and Deutsche Bank analysts argued that equity investors will start reaping the benefits of the group’s “rehabilitation”. Highlighting that the pub business is close to entering the FTSE 250 at this month’s quarterly index review, the bank lifted its rating to “buy” from “hold”.

Enterprise shares ended the day up 4 at 90p.

Finally, Bellzone Mining drew attention after the shares jumped 1½ -11.5pc- to 14½p in heavy volume, with one trade of 50m shares some 7pc of the West African focused company going through at 17p apiece.

That spurred speculation founder Nikolajs Zuks could have offloaded some of his 40pc stake and that a takeover of the company may be in the offing.