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On September 26th in ‘ITV directors dip their toes in the water- add to watchlist’ I noted purchases by three directors/senior managers at ITV (ITV, 39.5p) . I wanted to see further purchases before I bought the shares.

Over the last fortnight two non execs have also bought shares, in limited size, taking the number of directors buying shares to five.

Heather Killen, non exec, on October 1st bought 22,000 shares at 43p, initiating a position, and on October 9th Agnes Touraine, also a non exec, bought 100,000 shares at 37.5p.

Although these are relatively small purchases in $$ terms, it should be noted that all the five directors who have purchased shares (Griffiths- CFO, Fincham- Director of Television, Russell- Deputy Chairman, Killen- non exec, and Touraine – non exec) have initiated positions in ITV in the last month.

As a result of this, and the number of directors buying shares, the recent transactions act as a STRONG signal to investors.

View on ITV: POSITIVE- Directors buying shares

Strength of Signal: STRONG

Link to all comments on ITV.

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A summary of my thoughts from last week (click on stock name to get the article/post) :

Axis Shield (ASD) – Signal strength MEDIUM –  Positive- Ex Chairman of Axis (before merger with Shield) Erik Hornnaess, is seen to be payer pretty high levels for shares in his alma mater Axis Shield. The stock is up 40% relative to the market so far this year. This is postive for two reasons: a) as a non exec he knows what’s going on within the group. b) as an ex chairman he knows this business inside out. Also- if you look back you’ll see he is supported by consistent buying from directors earlier in the year.

Reckitt Benckiser (RB.)- no signal- interesting activity nonetheless, with EVP de Groot buying aggressively, and CEO Bart Becht selling shares he exercised earlier.

RBS (RBS)- Weak signal – Negative – The whole board of RBS subscribed for shares at 200p in the June offering. Now we see two directors selling. Either they need the cash, or they think there is downside risk in the shares. Or both.

Rathbones (RAT)- Medium signal- Negative – Two directors of Rathbone have taken advantage of a 50% jump in the share price to top slice their positions in the group. It is interesting to see the same thing happening at another private client broker/adviser Hargreaves Lansdown, where three directors are selling.

Tate and Lyle (TATE) – Strong signal- Positive- Six directors bought shares last week after the shares fell 10% on a court ruling. Since October last year seven directors out of a board of 10 have been buying shares, a significant proportion.

ITV (ITV) – Weak signal- Positive- CFO, Director of Television, and Deputy Chairman have all bought shares in the last week at around 1/3rd of last years share price. We may start to see more news on costcutting at the group, although I need to see more directors share buying before being convinced. In the meantime ITV goes on the watchlist. 

AIG (AIG) – no signal- my thoughts on Hank Greenberg reportedly selling shares in AIG whilst lending his support to the ‘rescue’.

Disclosure: I have a position in Axis Shield.

In a year of turmoil for ITV (ITV, 43.5p) due to advertising slowdown, a switch away from viewing TV to computers and many other ongoing dramas, the ITV share price has fallen from 121p high in May last year, to a low of 38p in July this year.

If you look at the recent press comment, there is an ongoing discussion with Ofcom over how much ITV can cut back to reduce its costs.

In this time of turmoil it is therefore intriguing to see directors starting to buy.

Ian Griffiths, CFO, on September 10th bought 100,000 shares at 47.2p, initiating his holding, only a day after he was appointed (did he feel duty bound to buy shares to shares?).

Peter Fincham, Director of Television, on September 24th bought 350,000 shares at 42.75p, also initiating a position.

And Sir George Russell, the Deputy Chairman, via Lady Russell, bought 57,000 shares at 43p on September 24th, taking their holding to 62,000 shares.

I’d like to see a few other directors buy shares at these levels, especially when they’ve paid prices 50-150% higher in the past. In particular Cresswell, Ormerod and  Crosby.

In the meantime these transactions merit a ‘WEAK signal’, with the potential to be upgraded pending further director purchases.

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June 2022