News, Culture & Society

MARKET REPORT: ITV slides after Piers Morgan row spooks investors

MARKET REPORT: ITV shares slide after Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan’s departure spooks investors

The departure of controversial and outspoken presenter Piers Morgan prompted a sell-off in ITV shares yesterday.

The broadcaster’s stock fell 3.8 per cent, or 4.8p, to 121.55p after the Good Morning Britain host quit amid a backlash against comments he made about the Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Morgan had been credited with boosting GMB’s viewing figures since he joined in 2015.

ITV’s stock fell 3.8 per cent after Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan quit amid a backlash against comments he made about the Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah Winfrey

Russ Mould, investment director at stock broker AJ Bell, said his departure would cost ITV ‘a high-profile and highly-effective broadcaster and polemicist’.

Neil Wilson at Markets.com added: ‘Investors may be a little worried about the loss of ratings for GMB – it wasn’t exactly doing that well before he joined and its prime-time slot will have repercussions for ads. Love or loathe, Morgan boosted ratings. It could also be that investors are worried about an investigation over comments made by Morgan on air.’

But City analysts were upbeat about ITV’s prospects as they weighed up its full-year figures – which were published on Tuesday but somewhat overshadowed by the Morgan furore.

The numbers showed profits dropped almost 40 per cent to £325million last year as turnover fell 16 per cent to £2.8billion. But there were encouraging signs advertising was bouncing back.

Stock Watch – Tritax Big Box

Tritax Big Box saw record demand for space in its warehouses in 2020 as online shopping boomed.

The landlord – which counts Tesco, Apple, Amazon and DHL among its customers – collected 99.4 per cent of rents due last year and expects to receive the remaining 0.6 per cent in 2021.

Profits ballooned by 218 per cent to £450million after its properties were revalued. 

Shares in the company, which has more than 33m square feet of space and land for another 40m, rose 2.4pc, or 4.2p, to 183.2p.

Barclays brokers raised their target price on ITV’s stock from 115p to 125p – on the basis that advertising revenues are set to rise. And analysts at Berenberg, JP Morgan and Societe Generale all raised their target prices too.

Shares in major miners tumbled for a second day as the prices of key metals continued to lose ground. 

Price of copper and iron ore, an ingredient used to make steel, fell by 2.5 per cent and 3 per cent respectively yesterday, as traders digested data on China’s imports for the first two months of the year – which were less rosy than expected – and environmental curbs placed on a major steel making city.

BHP fell 3 per cent, or 66p, to finish at 2134p, while Rio Tinto dropped 2.9 per cent, or 170p, to 5649p, Chilean copper miner Antofagasta by 3 per cent, or 53p, to 1688p, and Glencore by 0.5 per cent, or 1.55p, to 283.35p.

Anglo American wasn’t spared from the gloom, but fell by less than its peers after it sold £400million of diamond sales at its De Beers business, in the second of ten auctions. This was up from £260million in the second cycle of 2020. Shares fell 1 per cent, or 28.5p, to 2857p.

The drop across the industrial miners tipped the Footsie into the red, with the FTSE 100 closing down 0.1 per cent, or 4.74 points, to 6725.6. 

The FTSE 250, which is more focused by domestic UK stocks, rose 0.1 per cent, or 24.2 points, to 21406.67. It was a mixed day for construction groups Balfour Beatty, Breedon and Ibstock.

Balfour shares fell 2.1 per cent, or 6p, to 285.8p, despite the company predicting that profits would return to 2019 levels this year after slumping in 2020.

In full-year results, the company said its order book is in good shape – bolstered by winning HS2 contracts last year. Balfour pledged to repay £19million of furlough cash.

Concrete and asphalt-maker Breedon also believes the future is bright – with bosses saying it will benefit from infrastructure spending and long-term demand for housing.

But its stock slid 2.8 per cent, or 2.6p, to 89p, after it revealed 2020 profits halved to £48million.

Brick-maker Ibstock was met with a warmer reception, even as revenues were cut by almost a quarter to £316million after its housebuilding customers were forced to shut sites during the first Covid lockdown. 

But shares crept up 0.5 per cent, or 1.2p, to 242.4p.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk