Interpublic posts ten per cent first quarter growth but still loses $48m

The calamitous fortunes of marcoms company Interpublic in recent years are still apparent, with the company declaring a first quarter loss of $48m (down from $71.5m) even though its revenues increased 10.3 per cent to $1.47bn.

Interpublic claimed organic growth of 9.3 per cent, ahead of its rivals WPP, Omnicom, Publicis Groupe and Havas, the next best on 6.8 per cent.

Interpublic’s agencies include McCann Erickson (by far the biggest), Lowe & Partners, DraftFCB and Deutsch. Its media agencies are Universal McCann and Initiative and its PR agencies include Golin Harris and Weber Shandwick. It also owns sports marketing firm Octagon which racked up huge losses a few years ago.

CEO Michael Roth, who’s done a sterling job of turning round the group which at one time looked set for a fire sale to one of its profit-making rivals, is forecasting further decent growth throughout 2011 and a restoration of margins. So the the world first big marcoms company may even make a profit although he’s being a bit more cautious about this.

The chief factor in the group’s improved performance appears to be the strong performance of the US ad market where McCann, DraftFCB and Deutsch remain big players.

The problem for Roth in the near future is that he doesn’t have the financial firepower to match his rivals in the acquisition stakes.

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