S&P Lowers All Interpublic Debt to Junk Status

Ratings Agency Cites 'Operating Performance Challenges'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Standard & Poor's Ratings Services this afternoon lowered its ratings on Interpublic Group of Cos. debt to junk status, citing "operating performance challenges."

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The move came one day after Interpublic disclosed sharply lower fourth-quarter earnings and forecast a 2003 revenue fall.

S&P credit analyst Alyse Michaelson said in a statement: "The downgrade is based on Interpublic's recent record of weak profitability and higher debt to [earnings], and the likelihood that restoring earnings prospects ... could take longer than anticipated."

Another firm, Fitch Ratings, downgraded a limited amount of Interpublic debt to junk status in December.

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