New business activity dropped off again in April, as 35 accounts worth $1.4 billion changed hands during the month, down from 74 accounts worth $1.9 billion a year ago. The drop could be a result of a slowdown in activity during the Iraq war, as well as no new mergers shaking accounts loose, as Publicis Groupe's acquisition of Bcom3 Group did in late 2002. Burger King Corp.'s move of the bulk of its $340 million account to WPP Group's Y&R Advertising, Wunderman and Mindshare helped the company to the top spot.
Streak broken: Terrorists and mad cows took their toll on the stock markets and broke a five-week winning streak for the Standard & Poor's 500. Investors were spooked early in the week by reports of terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia and Morocco and fears of a possible outbreak of Mad Cow Disease in Canada. Passage of a $350 million tax cut perked up some investors late in the week, but it wasn't enough to salvage the streak. For the week, 22 AdMarket stocks were up and 28 were down.
The tax cut raised interest in blue-chip, dividend-paying stock. Altria, the former Philip Morris Cos., got a boost earlier in the week, when a Florida court threw out a $145 billion judgement against the tobacco industry. Conversely, Cordiant Communications Group hit a new low of 46› per share, as the troubled agency company continues its search for a buyer.