Interpublic unveils $100m loss but sees turnaround

NEW YORK - The Interpublic Group has revealed a loss of $102.5m for the fourth quarter of 2003, despite a 5.7% rise in revenues during the same period.

The company blamed restructuring charges of $40.6m (£22.1m) and a loss of $38m relating to the sale of its Brands Hatch motor racing circuits. However, it said that it was confident that it was having success in dealing with its problems of debt and legal enquiries about the way it reported billings in the past.

Revenues for the fourth quarter were up by 5.7% to $1.6bn. For all of 2003, Interpublic reported revenues up by 2.2% for the year to $5.86bn and a net loss of $451.7m, compared with a profit of $99.5m last time.

Interpublic is the third largest advertising holding company in the world behind Omnicom, which had revenues of $8.62bn (£4.69bn) in 2003, and WPP Group, with revenues of £4.1bn.

David Bell, chairman and chief executive of Interpublic, said: "The significant success we've experienced in resolving the company's outstanding problems, in strengthening the balance sheet and in bolstering margins, makes it clear that the first phase of our turnaround will soon be behind us."

He said that the company would now be focusing on addressing the challenges and opportunities facing Interpublic's operating units and that there were signs of a revenue resurgence at McCann-Erickson.

The market responded positively to Interpublic's earnings statement when it was released in New York this morning, with the share price rising by 3.5% to $17.05.

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