Publicis Groupe said first-quarter revenue, dragged down by the weak dollar, dropped 4.3 percent to $1.06 billion. Organic growth, excluding the impact of foreign exchange and acquisitions, jumped 4.4 percent.
In a conference call with investors, Publicis CEO Maurice Lévy said growth was especially good in North America, Asia-Pacific and Latin America and the company is well on its way to meeting its goal of a 15 percent operating margin for 2004.
While Europe lags the rest of the world in the industry recovery, Lévy said Italy and Spain posted a strong first quarter, and he expects France and Germany to show modest growth in the second half. Conditions in Northern Europe continued to deteriorate.
The company generated more than $1 billion in net new business in the first quarter, 40 percent of that in advertising and marketing services and 60 percent from media buying and planning. Lévy said not to expect any big acquisitions from the Paris-based holding company. Rather, Publicis is focused on building existing PR operations, political consulting and, on the agency side, filling in geographically as needed.