Quite how meaningful first quarter results are from the big ad holding companies is open to debate: Omnicom follows US rival Interpublic with a broadly flat Q1, impacted by the arrival of Coronavirus in March.
Worldwide revenue was down 1.8 per cent to $3,406.9 million from $3,468.9 million the year before, with an organic revenue increase of just 0.3 per cent. Analysts usually judge the ad holding companies on their organic revenue increase and there now won’t be any of that this year.
Advertising decreased 0.1 per cent, CRM consumer experience decreased 1.3 per cent, CRM execution & support decreased 0.9 per cent, public relations increased 0.2 per cent and Healthcare increased 9.6 per cent (it’s an ill wind…) Country-wise the UK was the standout performer (up 3.7 per cent, testimony maybe to the stellar performance of adam&eveDDB) while the Middle East and Africa decreased by 28.4 per cent, for reasons which aren’t entirely clear.
But none of these companies are going to emerge from Covid-19 looking like they did before – and performing as they did before. Omnicom has been one of the better recent performers in growth terms and its current market capitalisation was almost double that of bigger rival (by turnover) WPP.
Omnicom CEO John Wren has been quick to act with furloughs and lay-offs across his big agency brands. Of the ad holding companies Omnicom looks best placed to fend off possible predators or break-up bids but that probably depends on America returning to work soon.