Holding Co. Numbers Paint Bleak Picture


Analysts like Morgan Stanley's Benjamin Swinburne were encouraged by IPG's results. "We are raising our revenue growth forecast for '09 to down 9-10 percent from down 11-12 percent, due in large part to the upside in Q1, driven by strong international performance," he wrote in a research report.

WPP reported a 5.8 percent drop in like-for-like revenue to slightly less than $3.1 billion, which excludes revenue from recently acquired TNS. Digital media spending grew faster than traditional media, but at slower rates than in the past. While revenue was below expectations, operating margins were ahead of budget thanks to cost reductions.

Publicis said revenue rose 1.3 percent to $1.4 billion, and it had the lowest organic revenue decline at 4.4 percent. "That organic growth level is not what I'd like, but we have had a more limited reduction thanks to our strong digital operations and emerging markets and new business," Publicis CEO Maurice Levy told Adweek.

In the quarter, Publicis' digital business accounted for 20.5 percent of revenue compared to 17.6 percent in 2008 Q1, while advertising represented 38 percent. New business wins came in at $1.7 billion. On the downside, Publicis said revenue was off 20 percent from auto clients like General Motors, Toyota and Fiat, and accounted for 13 percent of revenue, down from 15 percent in 2008 Q1.

MDC Partners said consolidated revenue dropped 10 percent to $126.7 million. Net income was $29,000 compared to a loss of $3.4 million in the year-earlier period.

Execs at industry companies expect second-quarter results to be just as bad as the first quarter, or worse. While client commission and project income adjusted quickly to the economic meltdown in the fourth quarter, renegotiating fees take time and that process is continuing into the first half.