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(April 26, 2001) -- Interpublic Group of Cos. reported that its revenue grew just 6% for the first quarter of 2001 to $1,302.2 million, compared to $1,225.4 million in the first quarter of 2000, and operating income gained 11% to $130.4 million, compared to $117.5 million in 2000.

First quarter net income was $65.3 million, or 21 cents a share, compared with $63.7 million, or 21 cents a share, in the year ago period, the company reported. Net new business grew to $827 million in the quarter, compared $702 million a year ago.

Interpublic restated its forecast for earnings per share of $1.40 to $1.45 in 2001, compared to $1.51 in 2000, assuming the economy doesn't drop further. Revenue will grow in "single digits" in the second quarter, said Chief Financial Officer Sean Orr, and the second half will show "double-digit growth."

"We're being much more realistic about the outlook for the second half," CEO John Dooner said. He noted economies in Europe are slowing down, just as the U.S. did in the first quarter.

Earnings took a hit from the holding comapny's Lowe Lintas & Partners subsidiary and online company investments, most notably Interpublic's stake in the bankrupt MarchFirst holding company. Interpublic reported a $36 million charge to earnigns to fund its restructuring of Lowe Lintas and another charge of $160 million to write off investments on online shops. The charges reduced earnings per share from 21 cents per share to a loss per share of 12 cents.

Shares of Interpublic closed today down 19 cents at $36.31.-- Mercedes Cardona

Copyright April 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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