Publicis Groupe grew significantly in the last quarter of 2014, ending the year with $9.62 billion in revenue, good enough to maintain its No. 3 position among ad holding companies.
Net income for all of '14, however, fell 9 percent to $815 million, due in part to costs related to acquisitions and the company's failed merger with Omnicom Group.
Revenue grew about 12 percent in the fourth quarter and 4 percent for the year, the company said today. On an organic basis, however, the growth was modest: 3 percent for the quarter and 2 percent for the full year. In comparison, the No. 2 player, Omnicom Group, posted organic growth of 6 percent for both Q4 and all of '14. Market leader WPP Group won't report its results for another four weeks.
In a statement, Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Lévy acknowledged that the organic growth rates "did not live up to our expectations." That said, he touted the company's $3.7 billion acquisition of Sapient, predicting that the digital giant will become a major growth driver this year.
"The big story of 2015 will … be the integration of Sapient," Lévy said. "2015 will also be the year we return to more satisfactory levels of growth, gradually at first, with a more marked pickup in the second half-year, before reaching our full capacity in 2016."
The Paris-based company, whose top agencies include Leo Burnett, Starcom and DigitasLBi, expects low single-digit revenue growth this year (between 3 percent and 3.5 percent), in line with the prediction of Omnicom CEO John Wren, Levy's would-be merger partner.
Omnicom and Publicis Groupe had planned to combine to create a $23 billion powerhouse, but the plan disintegrated amid battles about which company's executives would assume the top jobs. So, the Franco-American union was called off in May 2014.