Havas Joins Hit Parade With Up Numbers

Coming off a rough 2009, the major agency holding companies have all reported improved first-half and second-quarter 2010 financials, with Paris-based Havas today joining the upbeat earnings parade.

Havas said its net income surged 22.5 percent in the first half to $62 million on a 4.2 percent rise in revenue to almost $927 million, compared to the same period in 2009. In organic terms, factoring out the impact of currency fluctuations and acquisitions, the gain was about 2 percent.

For Q2, organic revenue was $508 million, also up about 2 percent compared to the same quarter in ’09.

Like many of its competitors, Havas saw especially strong improvement in North America, which it called “the powerhouse for the group’s growth, thanks to the advertising, healthcare communication and media businesses.”

Boston-based ad shop Arnold, a laggard in the previous couple of years, has performed extremely well in 2010, notching key new business from CVS, Alberto Culver, Huntington Bank and New Balance, among others. Euro RSCG also tallied domestically, winning Roche and Novartis.

All told, global net new business for Havas is $1.5 billion so far in 2010, up 50 percent compared to the same period a year ago.

The company provided no specific forward-looking forecast, though many of its brethren firms have chimed in during recent weeks on their outlooks and strategies for the year’s second half and beyond.

 • Aegis Group CEO Jerry Buhlmann said, “We are seeing signs of a rebound in both the advertising and market research sectors. We are optimistic about the short-term outlook for both sectors.”

 • Publicis Groupe leader Maurice Levy was bullish, targeting acquisitions in Asia and vowing that Publicis would “succeed in outperforming the market in terms of both growth and margin.”

 • Interpublic Group CEO Michael Roth said his firm has “come through the worst of the impact of the economic crisis. We now expect to see positive organic growth for the year.”

 • Omnicom Group is meeting its future head-on, inking a recent deal with Google, through which it will spend more on display ads with the Web giant.

 • WPP Group was cautious in its earnings statement, noting, “Clients are pretty unanimously uncertain about future prospects” and forecasting a “slow-growth slog” ahead, particularly in terms of traditional media.

Indeed, the second half of the year could prove more challenging for some players given the continued shaky economy. And gains have thus far been somewhat easy to make, owing in large part to favorable comparisons with the height of the recession during early ’09.