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Interpublic looks rather sprightly all of a sudden as CEO Roth reports growth and profits both up

Interpublic has joined the slew of marcoms biggies reporting Q4 2014 results and full year figures and it appears to be motoring nicely.

026_michael_rothOrganic growth in Q4 was 4.8 per cent, down on the year as a whole where it reached an impressive 5.5 per cent. Margins increased to 10.5 per cent (still below its rivals) and CEO Michael Roth (left) says the company is aiming for 13 per cent.

Digital was a standout, says the company, which presumably owes something to the success of the R/GA digital agency, Ad Age’s Agency of the Year and the current leader among the marcoms-owned digerati. IPG also bought Profero recently to add to the Lowe network.

IPG has been under siege recently from activist investor and shareholder Elliott Management but recently appointed three Elliott nominees to its board. It’s hard to see what Elliott now has to grumble about although Roth said organic growth would slow to between three and four per cent this year (2015) thanks to the strong dollar and the flagging Eurozone.

Another issue for IPG is its lack of heft in media outside the US although Roth took a pot shot at his bigger media rivals by observing, apropos programmatic media buying (which IPG doesn’t do) that: “At a time of such dynamic change in terms of technology and media channels, the focus on the growth of programmatic platforms is understandable. Yet we should not lose sight of the fact that what we ultimately provide to marketers is a consultative service and insights. So, the key will continue to be our impartiality and our ability to apply consumer data to our clients’ real-time business challenges, so as to maximize the impact of their investments.”

Roth won’t be displeased to see both WPP and Publicis Groupe in seeming full retreat on programmatic buying, with PG’s VivaKi trading desk being dismantled and the traders scuttling back to individual agencies.

IPG made $300m profit in the fourth quarter compared to $193m a year ago (annual revenue was up four per cent to $2.2bn). IPG seems to have left the sick bay.

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