NEW YORK Havas' stock price dipped 6.7 percent in trading today to close at $4.58 a share, following earlier comments by company chairman Vincent Bolloré, who conducted his first press conference since taking control of Havas in June.
Investors bid the stock up 6 percent last Friday, anticipating that Bolloré would outline a broad growth strategy for the Paris-based holding company.
Instead, Bolloré downplayed expectations for full-year 2005 and the first half of 2006.
For 2005, revenue is expected to be $1.4 billion, down 5 percent from 2004, while the company's full-year operating profit margin will fall to 10 percent, compared to 11.6 percent last year.
Speaking today in Paris, Bolloré indicated that he intended to remain at the company for the "long term," though he did not articulate a far-reaching strategy.
He also had little to say about his 25 percent stake in U.K. media company Aegis Group, though he did leave the door open to possible future collaboration between Aegis and Havas. (Bolloré's investment in Aegis is held by a company separate from Havas.)
Sources said there were no ongoing talks between Aegis and Havas about any type of venture, alliance or merger of operations.
One analyst expressed the view that Bolloré will soon unload his Aegis shares. "Bolloré is a get-rich-quick merchant, not a long-term builder of businesses," the analyst said, speaking on conditions of anonymity. "He will agitate until he makes a profit. Then he'll get on, because otherwise he's sitting on dead money."
Aegis has confirmed it will entertain acquisition offers. Two initial suitors, WPP Group and Publicis Groupe, have, at present, withdrawn from contention and have not made formal bids.
According to U.K. takeover law, if Bolloré's stake in Havas reaches 30 percent, he must bid on the company.
Havas owns Arnold, Euro RSCG and Media Planning Group. Aegis' holdings include Carat and Isobar.