Digitas Draws Upbeat Quarter

As several of its competitors continue to struggle, Digitas last week reported upbeat quarterly numbers and announced a relationship with beverage concern Femsa, its first sizeable client based in Latin America.

The Boston-based agency also named Robert Kuhfus president of European operations and appointed Christopher Garthwaite president of its office in London.

Digitas’ revenue for the third quarter ended Sept. 30 increased 48 percent to $75.5 million compared with $51 million for the same period a year ago.

The company posted a net loss of $4.9 million for the quarter and $17.7 million for the past nine months. Those figures represent improvements over the losses of $5.9 million and $24.3 million Digitas reported for the same periods a year ago. Digitas’ stock, traded on the Nasdaq exchange under the DTAS symbol, has hovered in the $15 range in recent days. The stock’s 52-week high was $40; its low was $10.

Digitas chief executive David Kenny attributed the generally encouraging performance to “Our focus on large clients [and] long-term partnership relationships.” In-dustry analysts said Digitas’ strategy of teaming with clients grounded in both traditional and online sales has helped insulate the agency to some extent against the recent downturn endured by other Internet-focused marketing and communications firms.

Several competitors, including AnswerThink, Omnicom’s Razorfish and Interpublic Group’s Zentropy Partners, have struggled of late, with the soft Internet economy and other factors prompting staff reductions and other cutbacks.

Separately, Digitas added online marketing chores for Femsa, a large Mexcian beverage concern. Spending was not disclosed, but sources pegged the budget in the low eight-figures. No conflict of interest exists between PepsiCo. and Femsa because the latter’s relationship with Coca-Cola does not focus on domestic markets, and Digitas will work with PepsiCo. primarily in the U.S., Kenny said.

Kuhfus joined Digitas from Admiral plc, a U.K. information services and consulting firm, where he had been executive director. Kuhfus, named to a new position, is charged with helping to craft agency expansion plans in Europe. Key clients of Digitas’ London office are British Telecom and Kingfisher stores Woolworth and Superdrug.