The Ad Market

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New business activity kept improving in September, but the amount of billings changing hands was lower, which suggests smaller accounts are involved. Fifty accounts worth $800 million changed agencies, compared to 39 accounts worth $1.2 billion a year ago and 45 worth $1.3 billion in August. Among the holding companies, Omnicom Group lost business for the second month in a row, which doesn't bode well for its quarterly goal of $1 billion in net new business.

AdMarket 50

Mixed data, mixed markets: A late rally on Oct. 25 helped the markets to their third straight week of gains, even after a batch of mixed economic data brought back fears of double-dip recession. Record home sales balanced drops in goods and machinery orders and another drop in the bellwether University of Michigan Consumer Confidence Index. For the week, 32 AdMarket stocks were up and 18 were down.

Bargain hunters picked up shares of AOL Time Warner and Interpublic Group of Cos., two stocks battered recently by earnings restatements and operating troubles. But other agency stocks took a beating as investors took to heart WPP Group's warnings of weak ad market ahead. (See stories on this page.) Media stocks performed better, thanks to upbeat news from Viacom and reports of improvements at the publishing and TV network units of AOL Time Warner.

Advertising Age and Bloomberg's AdMarket 50 index of 50 top publicly traded marketer, agency and media companies for the week ended Oct. 25 based on stock trading data supplied by Bloomberg financial news service. All comparisons are vs. closing prices Oct. 18.

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