Interpublic sees revenues fall by 16%

NEW YORK - Interpublic, the world's largest advertising group, has, as predicted, seen a sharp decline in revenues for the fourth quarter of 2001, down by 16% to $1.7bn (£1.2bn) compared with $2bn in 2000.

Earnings were down to $111.2m, or 30 cents per share, compared with $190.5m last year, or earnings per share of 51 cents. Losses did not just relate to the downturn in ad spend -- Interpublic also said it lost $750m in billings relating to its acquisition of True North in 2000.

Interpublic described the results as reflecting "a very difficult advertising market". John Dooner, chairman and CEO, said: "The past year was a challenging one for Interpublic."

However, he went on to say: "We have addressed the situation forcefully, with a major restructuring programme and financial disciplines that will ensure we meet our commitments to shareholders in spite of the harsh media and marketing environment."

The group said it has seen operating costs decline by $236m over the quarter.

Interpublic saw revenue in its advertising and media divisions, which include the Lowe & Partners, McCann-Erickson WorldGroup and FCB ad networks, decline by 17% to $1.1bn.

Other disciplines, including Weber Shandwick Worldwide, the world's largest PR network, saw revenue down by 14% to $667m. Interpublic said that there were "disproportionate declines" in PR and event marketing.

In a statement, Interpublic said that it had already seen a "marked increase in new business activity" in the first quarter. Earlier in February, John Wren, president and CEO of Omnicom, also gave a more positive outlook, while Sir Martin Sorrell, chairman and CEO of the WPP Group, was more circumspect, saying he saw no blue skies.

Before its results were published, shares in Interpublic were trading down by 1.7%, or 48 cents to $27.20 when the market closed in New York yesterday.

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