June 21: Is ITV on the blink?

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ITV debt has been cut to one notch above junk after the company increased the amount it would pay out to shareholders by £200m to £500m. This feels like a company in long-term crisis, with shareholders and advertisers losing confidence in it. We’ll limit ourselves to a news story tonight, but it deserves closer analysis. The company will present its strategy to analysts tonight (ITV celebs, or what passes for them these days, are due at the drinks afterwards) and to journalists tomorrow. This may give us the opportunity we need.

There is quite a bit of retail news today. We have strong first quarter sales from J Sainsbury, thanks in part to the warm weather and the World Cup, which other supermarket groups will also have benefited from. And DSG International (Dixons to you and me) has confirmed it is selling The Link to O2 and plans to spend £200m-£400m a year on buying electrical retailers in central and southern Europe. It can spend more than that if it sees the right target.

We’ll use the start of trading in the newly-enlarged Alliance Trust as an excuse to look at the quite dramatic changes taking place in the investment trust sector.

And we’ll bring all the important details as we can from today’s analysts’ Oscars, the Thomson Extel awards.

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