Broadcaster ITV yesterday forecast it would be boosted by a strong 2016 summer of sport as it reported double-digit profit growth for the sixth year running and announced a special dividend.
ITV said it expected the Euro 2016 football championship to lift business in Q2 and drive advertising revenues.
It came as the company posted annual underlying pre-tax profits up 18 per cent to £843 million, despite a 3 per cent drop in audience to 21.2 per cent last year.
However, shares in the group fell 3.5 per cent to 240.9p as ITV said that, as always with tournaments, it meant advertising was likely to shift around, and net advertising revenues were expected to be flat and marginally lower than market expectations for the first quarter.
ITV’s total annual revenues climbed 14 per cent to £3.3 billion for 2015, while net advertising revenues grew 6 per cent to £1.7bn.
The company also announced a special dividend of 10p, equivalent to £400m.
ITV said it had “strong programming” lined up for 2016, including 50 hours more drama as well as major rugby, saying: “Over the full year we expect to outperform the television advertising market.”
Scots-born chief executive Adam Crozier said: “As we look to 2016 and beyond, we see further significant opportunities for growth across the company organically and through acquisitions and partnerships.”
The broadcaster said the positive outturn in 2015 was despite audience figures coming under pressure from the launch of new digital channels and a strong year for the BBC.