Almost three years into its five-year Transformation Plan, the UK’s leading commercial broadcaster ended 2012 with a 13% increase in earnings, despite flat ad revenues. In reporting its full-year results this morning, ITV, whose flagship channel is home to Downton Abbey and The X Factor, also said it will pay a £156M special dividend to shareholders ($236).

External revenues were up 3% to £2.2B with growth in all areas of the business, particularly production arm ITV Studios, maker of such programs as Hell’s Kitchen, which increased revenues by 16% to £712M. The company is making a global push in production, this year acquiring companies in the U.S., the Nordic region and the UK. ITV said it ended 2012 with positive net cash of £206M and expects non-advertising revenue to be up 5% in the first quarter of 2013. The company also expects to outperform a largely flat ad market for the full year 2013.

ITV has made headlines lately as renewed takeover chatter hit the City. The company was recently placed on a Citigroup list of European firms that could become takeover targets or begin share buybacks. Nomura also reiterated its buy recommendation and shares have increased 50% over the last year, partly based on the bid speculation with private equity groups thought to be the most likely suitors. The shares closed on Tuesday at 120.2 pence.

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