Media on the road to recovery

Last year will go down in the media industry as one dominated by write-offs, job cuts and efficiency moves. Those measures have, however, left the sector looking more streamlined and, potentially, even poised to benefit from an upturn in 2011.

Indeed, consultancy group Ernst & Young estimates that 70 per cent of UK media groups saw organic sales increases during 2010's first half, compared with just 12 per cent a year earlier. The average company, says Ernst & Young, delivered like-for-like sales growth of 2.5 per cent, while average operating profits leapt 34 per cent, as the financial surgery started paying-off.

That helped boost share prices, with global advertising agency WPP's shares having jumped almost 23 per cent in 2010 - not so surprising given its exposure to the early cycle turn. More surprising, however, was the rapid rebound at exhibitions and conferences groups. Both United Business Media and ITE posted stellar mid-30 per cent share price gains last year, while Euromoney Institutional Investor was the sector's outstanding performer in 2010; its shares jumped an impressive 55 per cent.

That said, the newspaper groups - including Trinity Mirror, Johnston Press and Daily Mail - do face big challenges. Specifically, analysts still harbour concerns over advertising volatility, declining print sales and rising print costs. What's more, high-yielding recruitment advertising is still largely frozen, much like classified advertising more generally - especially bad news for troubled advertising directories specialist, .

In television, ITV is beginning to bounce back,. The UK's largest commercial TV broadcaster saw revenue rise 18 per cent in the first half of 2010, helped by such hits as talent show, the X-Factor. Although new chief executive, Adam Crozier, remains concerned about the year ahead - concerns that pretty much sum up the views of most media company bosses right now given that the economy could yet be struck by a double-dip recession. BSkyB's year will likely be dominated by the success or failure of Rupert Murdoch's bid to take full control of the group.

AEGIS GROUP1431831151.820.6
BRITISH SKY BCAST.GROUP7461307625.72.630.8
DAILY MAIL 'A'590214011.82.539.5
ITE GROUP24159924.12.485.5
REED ELSEVIER531645211.63.84.5
UNITED BUSINESS MEDIA712174112.93.451.5

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