Omnicom Group helped rally agency and media stocks today after reporting better-than-expected global revenue growth of 6.3 percent in the first quarter. In organic terms, factoring out the impact of acquisitions and currency fluctuations, worldwide growth was 2.1 percent.
Omnicom reported worldwide revenue of $2.92 billion. U.S. revenue climbed 3.9 percent to $1.59 billion in the quarter, and international revenue increased 9.3 percent to $1.33 billion.
An upbeat John Wren, the firm's CEO, told investors that the 2.1 percent organic growth exceeded the company's estimates. "The general business environment continues to stabilize and improve and as we look at individual countries and regions, we are cautiously optimistic about continued growth," he said.
Net income was basically flat, dropping 0.7 percent to $163.4 million (or 52 cents a share) from $164.5 million (or 53 cents a share) in the year-earlier quarter.
Wren acknowledged that the revenue numbers were boosted somewhat by easier year-over-year comparisons. Still, he said the company was "pleasantly surprised" by the 5.1 percent increase in organic revenue in the U.S. during the quarter. Other regions contributing to the better results included the Mideast, Africa, Asia and South America. Europe remains weak, with an unclear outlook, he noted.
Wren said Omnicom experienced "fairly strong" organic growth in its CRM, PR and media businesses in the quarter.
After the news, Omnicom shares set a new 52-week high, trading around $44.07 on heavier-than-usual volume.
Separately, Omnicom's top execs saw increases in their 2009 compensation after declines in 2008, according to proxy details in advance of the company's annual meeting on May 25. Their base salaries, however, remain unchanged from 2008 levels.
• Wren's total compensation, which includes stock, bonus and perquisites, rose 17 percent to $7.88 million from $6.72 million in 2008. Wren earned a base salary of $1 million.
• Randall Weisenburger, Omnicom's CFO, saw a nearly 29 percent increase in total compensation to $5.65 million from $4.38 million in 2008. Weisenberger's base is $975,000.
• Thomas L. Harrison, chairman, CEO of Omnicom's Diversified Agency Services, received a 14.5 percent hike in total compensation to $4.39 million from $3.84 million in 2008. Harrison's base is $900,000.
• Andrew Robertson, president, CEO of Omnicom's BBDO Worldwide unit, was awarded a 20 percent increase in total compensation to $4.35 million, up from $3.62 million in 2008. Robertson's base is $900,000.
• Daryl Simm, chairman, CEO of Omnicom Media Group, posted a nearly 203 percent increase in total compensation of $5.55 million compared with $1.83 million in 2008. (That large increase reflects in part the award of $2,632,500 in stock options in 2009; in 2008, Simm did not receive any options.) Simm's base in 2009 was $875,000.
See also: "IPG Execs' Pay Revealed"