Results driven by 16% hike in ad revenues

LONDON — U.K. terrestrial web ITV more than doubled its net profit last year due to a surge in ad coin.

Net profit was up to £269 million ($437.3 million), compared with £91 million ($148 million) a year earlier.

Revenues increased by 10% to £2.06 billion ($3.3 billion) driven by a 16% hike in ad revenues on the back of such hits as “The X Factor” and costume drama “Downton Abbey.”

In a conference call, CEO Archie Norman struck a cautiously optimistic note as he looked forward to the impact of his five-year transformation plan kicking in.

While ITV’s core business has improved dramatically since the dog days of two years ago when the web’s stock hit a low of 28p (46 cents) (the price recently hit 90p — $1.47), Norman is under no illusions about how much work needs to be done to beef up the production and online businesses.

The perf of ITV Studios, the web’s in-house production house, struggled as revenues fell 12.5% to £293 million ($477 million) and earnings dropped 11% to £81 million ($132 million).

Norman said that “creative renewal” at ITV Studios involved “organic growth,” and declined to be drawn on speculation that the outfit is eyeing up local “super-indie” All3Media as a possible acquisition.

The appointment of a new international director was imminent in the wake of hiring highly regarded U.K. creative toppers Kevin Lygo and Denise O’Donoghue.

More coin was being invested in developing new fare and piloting shows, said Norman.

He added: “It will be a long haul, but over the past 12 months ITV Studios produced about 53% of ITV’s output compared with about 50% the previous year.”

Internationally, ITV presently produces in seven countries. The target is to increase that to 17 by 2015.

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