Havas Posts 3% Gain in Organic Growth

N.A. helped in recovery from year-earlier period

Thanks to improved results in North America and strong performance in high-growth countries, Havas said first-quarter revenue rose to $542 million, with a 3 percent increase in organic growth. That compares to the year-earlier quarter when Havas reported flat revenue of $504 million and a decline in organic growth of 0.9 percent.

Havas also said the current first quarter was helped by stabilizing performance in Europe, particularly in the U.K. and Germany, which posted double-digit growth.

Like other European-based industry holding companies, Havas said results were affected by the strengthening Euro, which had a negative impact on revenue of nearly $17 million.

In a call to investors, Havas CEO Yannick Bolloré credited the improvement in North America, where revenue rose 3.7 percent, to the change in management running the company's flagship agency networks in recent months and Havas Worldwide’s new-business wins last year like PayPal, Green Mountain, Keurig, Dish and Liberty Mutual. (In the most recent revolving door of changes, in January David Jones exited the holding company as global CEO and CEO of its namesake agency; a month earlier Robert LePlae left his role as chief of Arnold.)

Bolloré was cautious in addressing the prospects for Havas Worldwide corporate sibling Arnold which has experienced significant clients losses over the past year: “The only question we have is Arnold,” he said. But he pointed out the agency’s recent win of Kao brands like Jergens and John Frieda, in Arnold’s N.Y. office, as a positive sign.

In response to an analyst question, the French holding company chief declined to comment on the pending merger between Paris-based rival Publicis Groupe and Omnicom, the completion of which has been thrown into doubt. Looking ahead at full-year results, Bolloré said he is “reasonably optimistic” about Havas’s 2014 performance but did not offer growth specifics.

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