IPG’s Q1 Revenue Grows, Loss Narrows

BOSTON Interpublic Group today reported first-quarter revenue of $1.36 billion, up about 2.5 percent from $1.33 billion in the same period a year ago.

On an organic basis, factoring out currency fluctuations and the impact of acquisitions, revenue rose 1.6 percent.

IPG’s net loss for the quarter was just shy of $133 million (or 29 cents a share), compared to a net loss of $182 million (or 43 cents a share) in Q1 2006.

Despite the improvement, the Q1 loss was still greater than some analysts had anticipated.

The New York-based holding company said its operating expenses decreased to $1.48 billion in 2007, a slight improvement from $1.49 billion a year ago.

During the first quarter, IPG salaries and related expenses were almost $990 million, up 4 percent compared to the same period in 2006. Adjusted for currency effects and the net effect of acquisitions and divestitures, salary and related expenses rose 2.8 percent. Per IPG, this increase reflected higher base salaries, stock compensation expenses and bonus awards.

“Last year, we reversed a multi-year organic revenue decline and put the company back on a positive organic trajectory. This quarter we began to build on this accomplishment. We also saw continued good progress in lowering office and general expenses,” said IPG CEO and chairman Michael Roth, in a statement.

IPG said its Q1 organic revenue grew in both the U.S. and the U.K., but declined in Continental Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. In Asia, the downturn reflected the loss of work on the Commonwealth Games, an event that does not take place annually.

IPG is the No. 3 agency holding company. Key brands include McCann Erickson, Universal McCann, Lowe, DraftFCB, Initiative, The Martin Agency, Weber Shandwick, Mullen and Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, among others.

Last month, competitor Omnicom Group, the largest global player, posted an 11 percent global revenue rise to almost $2.85 billion and a 10 percent gain in earnings to $183 million. Organic revenue rose nearly 7.5 percent.

No. 2 WPP Group had previously posted a sluggish Q1 performance, blaming an 11 percent decline in the value of the U.S. dollar against the U.K. pound sterling for basically flat revenue of about $2.74 billion compared to the same period a year ago.