Moody’s upgrades ITV

Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded the ratings on all of the senior unsecured debt of ITV plc to Baa3 from Ba1.

“We have upgraded ITV’s rating to Baa3 primarily because the company has continued to successfully increase its total non-net advertising related revenues, by 23% since 2012, as a proportion of its total external revenues, while also reducing its leverage,” says Christian Azzi, Moody’s lead analyst for ITV. “The upgrade also reflects our expectation that ITV’s high-quality content will continue to support the company’s share of advertising and share of viewing, and that the latter, as well as the company’s share of commercial impact, is likely to stabilise in 2013 and increase in 2014.”

Moody’s cautions that the current ratings assume that the special dividend of £156 million (€184m) announced by ITV in H1 2013 is an exceptional and non-recurring payment and that the company will continue to favour prudent financial policy over excessive shareholder returns.

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