Publicis Groupe Posts Rise in 2012 Net Income

Holding company expects a 'difficult' 2013

Publicis Groupe today reported a 23 percent increase in 2012 net income to $982 million, thanks to growth from digital services and its agencies in the U.S. and developing markets.

Revenue climbed nearly 14 percent, with digital now accounting for a third of the $8.81 billion in total revenue generated last year.

While the French holding company predicted that this year it will outperform its 2012 results, global CEO Maurice Lévy offered an otherwise pessimistic industry outlook.

“While 2012 was a more difficult year than expected, 2013 looks like it will be even more difficult between economic uncertainity and the weakness of Europe, where whole sectors of industry both lack competitiveness and face consumers’ concerns," Levy said.

Like most industry players, Europe was the company’s weakest market in 2012, with no growth. Business in the emerging BRIC markets, along with Mexico, Indonesia, Singapore, South Africa and Turkey, posted the largest increase, at 10 percent. Business in North America, driven by media and digital results, rose 3 percent.

Organic revenue grew about 4 percent in the fourth quarter of last year and nearly 3 percent for the year—levels that Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser characterized as better-than-expected. Net income per share last year rose 27 percent to $4.48.

Interestingly, Publicis characterized 2013 market growth forecasts, from the company’s ZenithOptimedia unit, as “quite high” at 4.1 percent. However, Lévy added that "notwithstanding all this doom and gloom, there is good news from the USA where growth is up—even if the trends are fragile—and from the high-growth countries where forecasts are more optimistic."