Analysis: Media Analysts

Media analysts are playing an increasingly important role in big business. Raymond Snoddy on the best in the City

They are heavily courted by media chief eecutives and finance directors in the hope that they will issue "buy" recommendations rather than the dreaded "sell" notes that can send the shares of a media group heading down. In a good year, when the bonuses are flowing, some of them can earn as much as the eecutives whose activities they judge and chronicle. They were recently very sceptical about what they saw as a "no premium" takeover approach for ITV fronted by the former BBC director-general Greg Dyke and backed by Goldman Sachs and the venture capital groups Apa and Blackstone.

There is no single league table for media analysts, although different publications and financial information organisations carry out their own rankings.

Ask UK media organisations which analysts they listen to and the same names come up - although much depends on the nature of the company. Like media companies, most analysts specialise - some in consumer media, others in business, in small, medium or large companies. All the time they are looking for hidden value - a stock that can perform better than the market.

And these analysts are far from "the teenage scribblers" of legend. Most appear to have covered the sector for a decade or even two and, whisper it quietly, a number even worked in the media sector.

Mark Beilby
Dresdener Kleinwort
Wasserstein

Beilby is one of the survivors of the small band who helped to define the media sector nearly 20 years ago and was an early proponent of the value of media content. He believes he was almost too sceptical about the internet and media surge in 1999 before everything "went to the races" in 2000. The 45-year-old head of media equity research at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein says the focus this year should be on high-quality, medium-sized media companies, particularly television production groups.

Simon Davies
ABN AMRO

Davies, 42, came from financial journalism and was the FT's Hong Kong correspondent and capital markets editor before joining the Le team. A fan of professional publishers, he usually concentrates on companies worth up to around £800m. He "turned positive" on Informa, the publishing, ehibition and conference group, in 2003 and saw its value increase "many fold". Davies, top of a recent Sunday Times analyst poll on value added, still fancies professional publishing, because the internet provides "new routes to market and the ability to leverage intellectual property rights".

Meg Geldens
MAN Securities

Geldens, a New-York-born management consultant brought up in the Netherlands, has worked as a media analyst in several main finance houses including, among others, Credit Suisse First Boston, Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch. Most recently she was a rated analyst at Investec before moving to Man, a start-up offering independent research. She says she timed it right on Reuters soon after it began its recovery from a catastrophic share collapse. Geldens is now launching coverage for Man Securities on companies such as Pearson, Reed Elsevier, Emap and Reuters.

Rogan
Angelini-Hurll
Citigroup

Apart from two years at the communications consultants Spectrum, Angelini- Hurll, 35, has worked at Citigroup in its various manifestations. Specialising in consumer and professional publishing, he is a buyer of Daily Mail and General Trust, and believes there's scope for a Daily Mail price rise. Put a "sell" on Emap and is a long-term seller of Reed Elsevier. Neutral on ITV despite Citi being company broker.

Daniel Kerven
UBS

Kerven, a media analyst for 10 years at Dresdner, ABN AMRO and now UBS, specialises in free-to-air and pay TV. Goldman Sachs and Apa had a formal approach to ITV rejected last week; Kerven, 31, believes there is scope for the consortium to return with a more attractive proposal. He has a "buy" recommendation on ITV for its regulatory upside, digital potential and new revenue streams and is a medium-term enthusiast for Sky, believing the satellite broadcaster can get to 10 million homes.

Patrick Kirby
Deutsche Bank

Kirby worked at UBS and ABN-Amro before joining Deutsche in 1999. He specialises in advertising agencies and market research groups. All the action on market values in the sector, he notes, is coming from the likes of Yahoo! and Google, with traditional groups downgraded. But things aren't totally bleak; as Kirby, 39, sees it, technology change and its effect on business models are being offset by rising ad revenues and merger activity. Deutsche's picks this year include the marketing services groups Aegis and WPP.

Anthony de
Larrinaga
SG Securities

De Larrinaga has been a media analyst since 1984, first at Panmure Gordon and then at SG Securities. He has followed the "ebb and flow" of perceived risk since the creation of the media sector. From early eperience of the promised merger of computers and telecoms he is inclined to "run the other way" when convergence is mentioned. De Larrinaga, 46, believes Sky still looks cheap, despite facing new threats from BT's planned video-on-demand service. He suspects the public is likely to continue to prefer Sky's bundle of channels paid for by monthly subscription to the pay-per-view method.

Paul Sullivan
Merrill Lynch

Sullivan has been a media analyst at Merrill Lynch for 12 years and worked with the legendary former media analyst Neil Blackley. Sullivan, 33, specialises in publishing and information groups such as Reuters, United Business Media and Reed Elsevier. Yell, the yellow pages directory business, has been a top share pick since flotation in 2003 and UBM "has done well for us". Sullivan has been cautious on Reuters but tipped Dutch publisher Wolters Kluwer in May.

Lorna Tilbian
Numis Securities

Tilbian has been a media analyst for 22 years, is an eecutive director of Numis Corporation and appears in Media Week's Power 50 list. Her career has included SG Warburg and WestLB Panmure. Tipped Martin Sorrell's WPP at 30p - now £12 - and bought and placed Mirror stock out of administration. Amid laughs and heartaches floated and later sold Kelvin MacKenzie's Wireless Group. Backed Reuters at just over £1 in March 2003.

Andrew Walsh
Bridgewell

Analyst Walsh, 40, plays rhythm guitar in Bridgewell's very own rock band. He is a fan of Harry Potter publishers Bloomsbury and liked children's TV company HIT Entertainment before it was taken over. He likes the "alchemy" of small digital media companies with potential and is positive on regional newspaper publishers such as Johnston Press. Sceptical of the notion that the internet has destroyed classified advertising permanently, Walsh thinks the advertising cycle will turn positive for regionals in the second quarter.

Nick Ward
Panmure Gordon

Ward has worked in publishing and been a television producer; credits include programmes on Hello! magazine and the Bank of England. He ran media at Crédit Lyonnais and Commerzbank. He used to follow the largest media group but now specialises in some of the smallest media groups such as The Mutual Net, which offers reward schemes, and the digital marketing group IPT. As the pressure grows on the traditional media business model, Ward, 53, believes that the "interesting things are coming up from the bottom". In the net year he and Panmure are hoping to float a number of interactive advertising companies and independent television production companies.

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