Interpublic’s Roth Touts Mix of Clients, Services

Interpublic Group CEO Michael Roth today told Wall Street analysts that the holding company’s diversified mixture of clients and discipline offerings would insulate it somewhat from the recession, though he acknowledged that 2009 will be a year of difficult revenue pressure.
“The world has changed,” said Roth, speaking at UBS’s Global Media and Communications Conference in New York. “Of course, it’s going to be a challenge.”
Roth expects a flat overall market next year, with the U.S somewhat down. Emerging markets such as China are still growing, however, leading the CEO to believe that 2009 will not be all bad.
“To the extent that there are downsides [in certain markets], there are upsides in others,” Roth said. “The key thing is that we’re there in all these different markets.”
Agencies that experience revenue decline will have to cut staffers, but those that grow will continue to add talent as needed, Roth said. The overall goal, he noted, is to remain competitive while also containing costs.
Among IPG’s top 100 clients, 26 percent fall within the category of technology and telecommunications, 19 percent in health and personal care and 14 percent in either food and beverages or automotive and transportation, according to Roth’s presentation to analysts today.
Within the auto category is the cash-strapped General Motors, which generates an estimated 5-6 percent of IPG’s $6.6 billion overall revenue. As such, GM is IPG’s largest client and a cause for concern for the No. 3 holding company.
“We monitor it very carefully in terms of our receivables,” Roth said.