Even as ad spending continues to show signs of recovery, employment in the advertising industry-including advertising, public relations, media buying and direct marketing-fell again in August, after a sharp drop in July. Industry employment dropped to 429,903, down 0.1% from June's totals and down 1.8% from the year-ago period. But there is hope: Agency employment tends to grow in the fall and most forecasts point to improvement in 2004, so employment totals are bound to improve in coming months.
Microsoft warning trips markets: With the third-quarter earnings season in full steam, investors worried that many stocks have peaked and warnings from some large marketers led many to sell. The stock market rally lost some steam, after Microsoft Corp. warned its volume of corporate contracts has dropped due to security worries. Thirteen AdMarket stocks were up and 37 were down.
Agency stocks suffered after Morgan Stanley analysts downgraded WPP Group, Publicis Groupe and Havas based on concerns over their revenue growth and Grey Global Group's stock took a dive after it announced it will sell up to $125 million in convertible debt. Among marketers, Unilever dropped after it warned of a fourth-quarter sales slowdown, while Anheuser Busch rose after it reported rising profits in Q3.
Advertising Age and Bloomberg's AdMarket 50 index of 50 top publicly traded marketer, agency and media companies for the week ended Oct. 24, based on stock trading data supplied by Bloomberg financial news service. All comparisons are vs. closing prices Oct. 17. Full data available on Bloomberg terminals under index BAAX.