Interpublic Stock Hits 10-Year Low

Analysts Say New Credit Agreement Less Harsh Than Expected

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Interpublic Group of Cos. stock today slumped 10.7% to its lowest point in nearly a decade even as some analysts said its new agreements with creditors are less onerous than initially thought.

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Low of $9.11
The agency company's stock closed at $9.23, crashing through the $9.85 bottom that it hit last fall when the company was shaken by accounting missteps and operating troubles. The stock today dipped to a low of $9.11, the lowest point for Interpublic since 1994. Trading volume of 6.6 million shares was the highest this year -- triple its average daily volume -- and one of the highest ever for Interpublic. The stock is down 84.1% from its December 1999 peak of $58.06.

The stock traded above $15 as recently as early January.

An Interpublic spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Decline for rivals
The drop came on a day of smaller declines for rivals Omnicom Group (down 2.9%) and WPP Group and Publicis Groupe (each down about 4%). The Dow Jones Industrial Average and Standard & Poor's 500 declined about 1%.

In a report issued today, CIBC World Markets analyst David Doft said the restrictions imposed on Interpublic by new agreements with creditors announced late Feb. 10 are "less burdensome" than expected. But he added, "We do not believe the company is out of the woods yet." The company is laboring to reduce its $2.9 billion debt load.

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