Havas' growth figures disappoint analysts

Havas failed to impress analysts this week, despite a fourth-quarter revenue growth of 2 per cent and improved fortunes in the UK.

Although it netted new billings of more than £1 billion in 2004, the group has yet to feel the effects of major losses at the end of the year.

These included the £186 million Volkswagen media account and the £162 million Intel US advertising and media business.

"The 2 per cent growth figure is a very modest one which doesn't compare favourably with the other major players," Bob Willott, the Marketing Services Financial Intelligence editor, said. "Havas is going to be the Mr Plod of the industry throughout 2005."

However, Alain de Pouzilhac, the Havas chairman, who still has the French corporate raider Vincent Bollore breathing down his neck, said: "Our results, to be presented in early March, will show that all the targets management had set itself over the year have been achieved and even exceeded.

"This is the clearest possible demonstration that our strategy is the right one and is bearing fruit. We can only be optimistic for 2005."

Havas delivered revenues of £1.03 billion last year although these were reduced by sell-offs precipitated by the global recession. Fourth-quarter organic growth brought the group's UK operations almost back to break even.

- Comment, p48.