Modulation: Radio-the first U.S. media sector to slow down, in December 2000-recovered lost ground in 2002, ending the year with ten straight months of year-over-year growth. But the growth rate seemed to peak in December 2002 as tougher year-over-year comparisons took hold. Merrill Lynch & Co. radio analysts recently scaled back growth forecasts for the medium to 5.8% for the first quarter from 7.5%, and to 4.8% for the year from 5.2%, after several radio companies warned that advertisers are holding off on March advertising due to war fears.
No Osama rally: Markets perked up late last week on reports that U.S. forces were closing in on Osama bin Laden amid a new March 17 deadline for resolution to the standoff over Iraq. That wasn't enough to make up for rising unemployment data and more weak earnings reports. Only 11 AdMarket stocks were up and 39 were down for the week.
Interpublic Group of Cos. sank following a grim financial report (see story, this page); Standard & Poor's downgraded debt to "junk" and issued a sell recommendation on the stock, saying it's still overpriced. The bad news dragged down other agency stocks, except for Grey Global Group, which reported improved results (see The Week, P. 18). Automakers took a hit as Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. cut production.