Riding strong performances in the U.S. and Latin America, Havas today reported a 1.5 percent rise in first-quarter organic revenue to $442 million, compared with the same period a year ago.
This marks the first rise in the company's quarterly numbers since the recession took hold in late 2008.
The Havas financials, along with recently upgraded 2010 ad spending forecasts from Zenith Optimedia and Carat, could indicate that the industry's recovery has begun in earnest.
In organic revenue terms, factoring out the impact of acquisitions and currency fluctuations, Havas saw a 24.4 percent gain in Latin America, a 5.2 percent rise in North America and a 4.4 percent improvement in the Asia-Pacific region.
Europe still lagged, however, with revenue falling 3 percent.
The overall 1.5 percent global growth figure, though modest, represents a big turnaround from the 8.4 percent organic decline the Paris-based company suffered in Q1 '09. In fact, Havas reported a 9.2 percent decline through the first three quarters of last year, though improvement began in Q4, when the slide was somewhat more tempered at 4.4 percent.
Another positive sign: Havas said it added $771 million in net new business during Q1, including assignments from Panasonic, Mike's Hard Lemonade, Credit Suisse, Comet and Nike.
Havas is the parent of the Euro RSCG, Arnold and MPG agency networks, and is the first of the big holding companies to report Q1 financials this year.