Parent company results remain poor

New figures from three of the world's biggest communications groups show the global ad market is still stuck in the doldrums.

Interpublic posted second-quarter losses of $13.5 million, while Havas saw revenues plummet by 19 per cent, partly because of a "strong deterioration" in the UK market.

Publicis Groupe bucked the trend with a 1.6 per cent rise in revenue to £680 million. But its chairman, Maurice Levy, warned that "many uncertainties" lay ahead and said: "We have to remain cautious in a very unsettled market."

Interpublic, which has missed analysts' forecasts for the second quarter in a row as it struggles to deal with high debts and the fallout from an accounting scandal, also announced it was withdrawing earnings guidance because of uncertainty in the market.

However, the group, whose networks include McCann-Erickson and FCB, predicted that a trend in the US towards increasing marketing spend instead of cutting costs could lead to a rise in revenues over the next six months.

David Bell, Interpublic's chairman, claimed the figures were predictable given that the group was in the early stages of a turnaround, and said IPG's performance over the next 12 months would provide a better benchmark.

Havas blamed the strength of the euro, the ongoing effects of the Iraq war and the Sars outbreak for a drop in revenues to $540 million.

In contrast, Publicis, the parent company of the Saatchi & Saatchi and Leo Burnett networks, reported a marked improvement in the Asia-Pacific region, claiming that the effects of Sars had been "temporary and limited".

Nevertheless, the group's European revenues continue to fall, dropping by 3.7 per cent to $806 million, mainly because of weak markets in France and Holland.

- Close-up, p15.

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