Fourth quarter revenue totaled $2.01 billion versus $1.80 billion in Q4 2009. Increases were tallied around the world, with the U.S. showing organic growth of 13.1 percent. Operating income was $330.7 million for the quarter versus $268.0 the previous year, with operating margin at 16.4 percent for the quarter compared to 14.9 percent the previous year.
For the year, revenue was $6.53 billion versus $6.03 billion in 2009. Operating income was $548.7 million compared to $341.3 million in 2009. For the full year 2010, the operating margin was 8.4 percent versus 5.7 percent in 2009.
The company also announced a $300 million share repurchase program and a quarterly common stock dividend. “They signal confidence in the sustainability of our competitive offering, which is further supported by very strong 2010 results,” said Michael Roth, IPG’s chairman and CEO in a statement. “All indications are that the economy in 2011 will continue to be positive and we expect to deliver competitive organic revenue growth and aggressive margin expansion.”
Harris Diamond, CEO of IPG’s Constituency Management Group, which houses its PR firms, seconded those emotions. IPG’s PR firms include GolinHarris, Weber Shandwick, and DeVries Public Relations.
“We’re just seeing a tremendous focus with companies more and more seeing the wisdom of looking for programs the reach their constituent groups,” he told us from China, where he’s traveling for business. He said that across all PR businesses, practices, and geographies, business has experienced and continues to experience growth. Moreover, he’s optimistic about what’s to come and the company’s PR firms ability to capitalize.
In addition to the strengths in digital and social media, which was a high point, we talked about the opportunities available for the industry in areas traditionally reserved for advertising. “Mega events,” as Diamond called them, like the Super Bowl, have become critical.
“All these mega events are oppties for us to take advantage of,” he said. For the Super Bowl, he said the PR firms has about 80 people at the event.
“More and more clients see an opportunity to tie their passions to sports brands,” he said. The entertainment business – such as branding and PR – have seen increases over the past 15 months and there’s growing focus on these “mega events” both “offline and online.”
“This is something that is a slow build and now an accelerating build,” he continued. “Every time there’s a new channel created, there’s another chance for clients to talk to customers. A new event is an opportunity to build programs for those who want to be involved in the event; to engage consumers and constituency groups.”