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IPG's Bottom Line Swells

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NEW YORK -Interpublic Group of Cos. reported an 85% increase in net income for the fourth quarter.

The advertising concern said Tuesday that net income came to $103.2 million, or 33 cents a share, compared with $55.9 million, or 18 cents a share, in the year-earlier period.

Excluding $44.7 million in acquisition-related expenses, the company said it would have posted earnings of $144.8 million, or 46 cents a share. The mean estimate of an alysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial was for earnings of 45 cents a share.

Were it not for restructuring costs in the year-earlier period, Interpublic said it would have earned $107.3 million, or 35 cents a share, a year earlier.

Revenue i n creased 5.5% to $1.60 billion.

Interpublic (IPG), parent of ad agencies including McCann-Erickson Worldwide, is planning for double-digit growth in per-share earnings in 2001, although it noted revenue comparisons for advertising businesses are expect ed to remain difficult through the first half of the year.

Growth in advertising spending is expected to slow from recent record rates in the face of slower economic activity and the absence of political, dot-com and Olympics-related promotions.

Demand for marketing services is expected to remain relatively strong, however, as clients continue to disperse their promotional activities across an array of communications channels.

Meanwhile for the fourth quarter, Interpublic reported 55 cents in cash earnings per share, which it defined as the sum of net income per share plus amortization of intangibles. Cash EPS a year earlier was 46 cents.

Back in December, Coca-Cola Co. tapped Interpublic to develop the global brand strategy for Coke, an estimated $2 billion account.