Publicis sets holding company bar in Q3 with 11.2% growth

Publicis has laid down a significant marker for its holding company rivals – and even fast-growing newbies like Sir Martin Sorrell’s S4 Capital – by posting third quarter (Q3) organic growth of 11.2%.

The US was up 11.2%, Europe 10% and Asia 12.5%. This beats its 2019 growth of 5% overall, suggesting a solid return after the pandemic. In the US the star performers were data businesses Epsilon and Sapient (up 13% and 20% respectively.)

Understandably buoyant CEO Arthur Sadoun (above) says: “In Q3 we delivered strong organic growth at +11.2%. All of our regions contributed to this performance with double-digit growth, notably the US, which grew +10.9%, Europe at +10% and Asia at +12.5%.

“The continued outperformance of our data and tech capabilities once again demonstrated our ability to capture a disproportionate share of the shift in client investment towards digital media, commerce and DTC. This was particularly the case in the U.S., where Epsilon delivered +13% and Publicis Sapient was at +20%.

“The strength of our model not only means we have fully recovered from the impact of the pandemic, but it has also allowed us in Q3 to grow 5% versus 2019. On a two-year basis, Asia is at +2%, Europe has returned to pre-pandemic levels and the U.S is accelerating to +8%.

“Today, all of this means that we are in a position to upgrade our full year guidance for all our KPIs a second time this year. This is the case for organic growth, that we now anticipate at +8.5-9% from +7%. We are also revising our operating margin upwards, to slightly above 17%, while continuing to invest in future growth and talent. And at close to 1.3 billion Euros, our free cash flow is expected at the high end of our previous objective.”

Post-pandemic comparatives are always tricky but Sadoun’s new forecast for the year – up to 9% – looks modest. Full profit and revenue numbers aren’t available yet but Publicis seems to have managed its costs artfully even as its fabled ‘Power of One’ reforms take shape

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