STV shares up 15% amid profit cheer, board changes

Paul Reynolds

Shares of Glasgow-based media firm STV Group plc rose about 15% on Wednesday after it said in a trading update it expects operating profit for the year ended December 31, 2020, to be at least £18 million, “comfortably ahead of market expectations, driven by a stronger than expected regional and digital performance.”

STV also said it has hired telecoms industry veteran Paul Reynolds as a non-executive director and that Reynolds will succeed Margaret Ford as chair of STV when Ford steps down as planned at the firm’s April 2021 AGM.

Reynolds, a Scot, has extensive executive and board level experience acquired through a career in the TMT sector at public companies in the UK and overseas, including tenures as chief executive of BT Wholesale and executive director of BT Group plc, and chief executive of Telecom New Zealand.  

Reynolds is currently a non-executive director of TalkTalk Telecom Group plc and Computershare Limited. 

STV has also appointed Aki Mandhar as a non-executive director.

Mandhar is currently UK General Manager of subscription-based sports news website The Athletic and she was formerly chief operating officer of Telegraph Media Group.

In its trading update, STV said STV-controlled advertising “continued to outperform the wider advertising market” with regional advertising up 8% in H2 and down just 5% for the full year, delivering growth in five of the last six months of 2020.

STV CEO Simon Pitts said: “2020 finished strongly and we expect to report an operating profit and net debt position well ahead of market expectations, underscoring the resilience of our business, the loyalty of our viewers and our strong digital growth trajectory.

We’ve set new viewing records on screen and online, with TV viewing up 14% and STV Player viewing up 68% in 2020.

STV-controlled Scottish advertising and digital advertising both continued their strong recovery in H2, driven by our advertising Growth Fund and the continued success of our streaming service, STV Player, which is now available in 70% of the UK’s connected homes following recent launches on Freeview, Virgin and Sky.

Despite the ongoing challenges around Covid-19, we have managed to accelerate our strategy and remain confident in our prospects for growth.

“We have a strong programme line-up in Q1 across STV and the STV Player, with more bingeworthy drama than ever before, while in STV Studios our slate of new commissions means that 2021 promises to be our most successful year yet.”