INTERPUBLIC REPORTS IMPROVED FIRST-QUARTER EARNINGS

Advertising and Media Revenue Down 17%

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Interpublic Group of Cos. showed some improvement in the first quarter, but client spending cuts hurt revenues.

The holding company giant reported first-quarter net income of $66.7 million compared with a $28.7 million loss in 2001. But factoring out a $160.1 million restructuring charge in 2001, net income was down 12.8% from $76.5 million in 2001. Diluted earnings rose to 18 cents per share from a loss of less than 1 cent per share in 2001, but dropped 10% from 20 cents after factoring out the adjustments.

Revenue dropped

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15.2% to $1.42 billion, from $1.66 billion in 2001: 12.8% was attributed to client spending reductions, 1% to the loss of business from DaimlerChrysler Corp. and PepsiCo, and the remainder to currency and other factors.

Advertising and media revenue
Advertising and media revenue -- 59.4% of Interpublic's total -- dropped 17%, while marketing communications revenue dropped 12%. Overseas revenue held up better than U.S., down 10.4% vs. an 18.4% drop, respectively, with Europe and Canada both down 9%, Asia down 7% and Latin America flat on a constant currency basis.

Interpublic brought in $744.6 million in net new business, which "suggests very good momentum," said Chief Financial Officer Sean Orr. The net new business total in the first quarter was three times larger than in the fourth quarter, Chairman-CEO John Dooner said.

Marketers' spending seems to be stabilizing and upfront negotiations "are more vibrant," a good sign of a reccovery, Mr. Dooner said. He echoed comments by executives of rival Omnicom Group that suggested marketers are ready to spend, but no one is willing to be first.

"We're not suggesting the pocketbooks are out and money's coming in ... but it seems things are coming together and people are waiting for the gun to go off," Mr. Dooner said.

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