New business activity dropped off in December with only 26 accounts worth $840 million changing agencies, compared to 57 accounts worth $880 million in December 2002. Publicis Groupe appears to have recovered momentum, after completing the integration of Bcom3 Group into its structure. Interpublic Group of Cos., which had struggled with new business during the year, has shown improving momentum in the second half of 2003, but ended a four-month winning streak in December and faces a review for the $315 million Verizon Wireless account.
Stocks seesaw: Earnings report season got off to a strong start and took markets up with it, but mid-week remarks from the Federal Reserve Board that hinted at future interest rate hikes put a cork on the rally and investors were further spooked late week by lower-than-expected Gross Domestic Product growth. For the week, 17 AdMarket stocks were up, 33 were down.
Strong fourth-quarter earnings helped American Express Co. and Procter & Gamble Co., while a forecast of a first-quarter loss hurt Sears, Roebuck & Co. Univision Communications and General Motors Corp. also slipped due to analyst downgrades. Among media stocks, Time Warner took a hit when its earnings failed to meet Wall Street's expectations, but most newspapers stocks were up after posting good earnings.
Advertising Age and Bloomberg's AdMarket 50 index of 50 top publicly traded marketer, agency and media companies for the week ended Jan. 30, based on stock trading data supplied by Bloomberg financial news service. All comparisons are vs. closing prices Jan. 23. Full data available on Bloomberg terminals under index BAAX.