IPG Makes Q3 Strides

Latin America was a key driver of Interpublic Group’s high single-digit revenue growth in the third quarter and the first nine months of the year, IPG CEO Michael Roth told industry analysts this morning.

Revenue in the region, which includes booming markets like Brazil, jumped 38 percent for the quarter and 26 percent for the January through September period, IPG said. On an organic basis, Latin American revenue grew 29 percent for the quarter and 15 percent for the first nine months.

Of course, the bar from last year’s comparative periods was low. Still, Roth expects the growth to continue, although not at the same pace.

“You don’t get 30-40 percent growth in markets without some lightening on the comps and obviously they’re going to get harder for us,” said Roth (pictured) during an hour-long call with analysts. “But we do think those economies are solid. They’re leading in terms of recovery and growth on a worldwide basis.”

Worldwide, IPG reported net income of $76.2 million for first nine months — a significant upswing from the $35.8 million net loss it recorded in the same time frame last year. For the quarter, net income stood at $42.4 million — more than double what it was in the like period last year ($17.2 million).

Global revenue grew 9 percent to $1.56 billion for the quarter and 7 percent to $4.52 billion for the first nine months, IPG said. Organically, revenue rose 9 percent for the quarter and 5 percent in the January to September period.

IPG also saw its operating margin rise, prompting Roth to project an 8 percent margin for the year. That goal falls short of IPG’s pre-recession target of a double-digit margin  — more in line with competitors — but represents significant progress from last year.

IPG reported operating margins of 6.4 percent and 4.8 percent for the third quarter and first nine months, respectively — up from 4.1 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively, in the like periods of 2009.

When asked about his outlook for 2011, Roth described the tone of recent conversations with major clients as “solid.”

“They’re going to spend those marketing dollars to support their brands,” Roth said. “Absent a hiccup in the overall economy, we’re going to continue to see that kind of spend.”

In related news, IPG got a boost today from the Fitch credit rating agency, which upgraded the holding company’s issuer default rating to “BBB” from “BB+.”

In making the change, Fitch cited IPG’s “ability to deliver competitive organic revenue growth” and said the company was “in a good position to continue to grow its EBITDA margins and reach competitive levels over the next few years.”

Among IPG’s rivals reporting quarterly results:

Revenue Surge at WPP

Mixed Q3 for MDC

Publicis’ Q3 Revenue Beats Expectations

6.7% Revenue Rise for Omnicom Group

Havas Sees 5.4% Gain in Q3