Publicis Posts 5.4% Q1 Organic Growth

BOSTON Buoyed by a strong performance in the digital sector, Publicis Groupe today reported first-quarter organic growth of 5.4 percent to approximately $1.65 billion compared to the same period a year ago.

Organic growth excludes the impact of acquisitions and currency fluctuations. In constant currency terms, growth was 8.2 percent. In real growth terms, the Q1 performance was flat, mainly owing to the weak U.S. dollar.

The Paris-based holding company’s numbers beat analysts’ predictions and reaction in the investment community was generally positive.

“Publicis achieved a solid but not a revolutionary quarter, helped by an easy comparison base. This should also be the case in the second quarter and this is going to help them short-term,” Exane BNP Paribas analyst Charles Bedouelle told Reuters.

Maurice Levy, Publicis chairman and CEO, said, “The investments to bolster our digital activities and expand business in the emerging countries are producing very positive results.”

The company’s digital businesses, led by i-shop Digitas in Boston, preformed best, yielding Q1 growth in excess of 20 percent.

Overall, Levy predicted “good growth this year driven by the digital and media businesses.”

He also said the healthcare sector, which has been down of late, “should return to positive growth before the end of the year.”

Net news business for the quarter was $1.9 billion.

Publicis’ numbers were generally in line with those of its competitors. WPP Group last week reported a 5 percent increase in organic revenue, while Havas’ Q1 spike was 7.4 percent. In WPP’s case, the numbers were viewed as somewhat disappointing, while Havas’ performance met or exceeded most expectations. Omnicom Group, the largest agency firm, reported a 12.5 percent increase in actual revenue.

Interpublic Group, hampered by earnings restatements for the past several years, is slated to report its Q1 performance this week.