Profits up 18% as Publicis commits to ambitious targets

PARIS - French advertising group Publicis Groupe has reported first-half net profits up 18% to €65m, as it said that it is on target to meet operating margins this year and has set ambitious targets for 2004.

The company, which owns Saatchi & Saatchi and ZenithOptimedia, has recorded a rise in revenues of 59% during the first half of the year to €1.87bn (£1.32bn), including the consolidation of Bcom3, which it bought in 2002.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose by 62% to €314m for the six months ending June 30 2003, in line with analysts' expectations.

Maurice Levy, chairman and CEO of the company, said: "Barring unforeseen circumstances, we should be able to achieve 15% operating margin during the second half of 2003. Our objectives will then be to consolidate this level for the entire year of 2004."

He said that the integration of Bcom3, which includes the advertising agency Leo Burnett, was proving to be successful.

Last month, Publicis paid £75m to acquire the remaining stake in media-buying agency ZenithOptimedia from WPP Group, after it had bought Cordiant Communications.

Shares in the company, trading on the Paris Bourse, down 4.68% to €26.26.

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