More strife for MDC but CEO Penn paints a rosier picture

As usual with MDC Partners there’s red ink all over the numbers as it lost $237 million in Q4 2020, $243m for the full year. The owner of Anomaly, CPB, 72andSunny et al blamed this chiefly on an impairment charge.

Q4 revenue was $328 million with $1.2bn for the full year (a 15% decline.) Q4 organic revenue decline was 13.7%, with the full-year down 13.9%, markedly worse that its much bigger ad holding group peers.

As ever with MDC hope springs eternal and CEO Mark Penn (below) is forecasting organic growth of between seven and nine per cent.

Key to MDC’s fortunes is the merger with CEO Penn’s digitally focussed investment group Stagwell which is due to close in the first half of this year.

Of 2020 Penn says: (MDC) “continued to see a rebound from pandemic lows, with strong sequential improvement in revenue driven by double-digit growth in most client sectors led by consumer products, technology and healthcare.”

Clearly there should be a bounce-back for all the ad holding groups in 2021 as the pandemic abates (we hope.) MDC has some good agencies and Stagwell will bring in more digital assets.

But the task for Penn, and the other ad holding group bosses, is to show that there are sustainable post-pandemic gains to be made, not just a temporary escape from the critical ward.

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