Reflecting a slowing of business in North America, Havas reported flat first-quarter revenue of $504 million. Organic growth declined 0.9 percent compared to an increase of 3.5 percent in the year-earlier quarter.
The company said results were broadly in line with internal expectations.
“The group held up well against the sharp downturn in the European market overall in the first quarter of 2013, achieving positive performances in the key markets of France and the UK,” Havas CEO David Jones said. “Business in North America slowed after outperforming the market in Q4 2012, but emerging markets remain solid. Digital, media, advertising and healthcare communication all made significant contributions to group performance.”
In North America, where revenue slumped 3.9 percent, Havas was impacted by account losses last year that included Dell at Arnold and Sprint and Exxon at Havas Worldwide. (The company expects those losses to tail off in the second quarter.) Havas noted healthcare communications continued to “outperform,” despite significant declines in Pfizer business, and media delivered strong growth as well.
Interestingly, the Paris-based holding company said organic growth rose 1.2 percent in its home country of France, a Eurozone country that continues to be a challenge to other competitors. Those gains came across the board in advertising, media and digital. The rest of Europe showed a 2.4 percent decline, with the exception of digital which continues to perform well, the company said. Germany and Turkey also continue to report good growth. The UK showed modest growth, despite cuts in certain client budgets.
Without releasing revenue specifics, Havas said Latin America, driven by digital, media and operations in Mexico, reported good growth and the Asia Pacific region also grew despite a significant account loss in Australia and the slowdown of the corporate communications business in Hong Kong.
In March, when Havas released its fourth quarter and full-year earnings Jones told analysts he expects a level of organic growth in 2013 that is in line with last year when the company reported a 2 percent increase in organic growth.
Havas is the last of the major industry players to report first-quarter numbers and that forecast is similar to what other companies, like Omnicom, Publicis Groupe, Interpublic and WPP Group, are forecasting as they continue their climb out of the lingering recession.