Interpublic group first quarter results disappoint analysts

NEW YORK: Advertising company Interpublic group of companies, the world's second-largest owner of advertising agencies has reported a disappointing results for the FY2003. The group also named Christopher Coughlin (ex executive VP and CFO at Pharmacia Corporation) to assume charge of the newly created position of a chief operating officer.

While announcing its results on 7 May, Interpublic reported a first-quarter net loss of $8.6 million, or 2 cents a share. That compared with a year-ago profit of $59.8 million, or 16 cents. The first quarter revenues rose nearly 1 per cent to $1.43 billion as foreign exchange fluctuations masked the weakness in the ad market abroad and project-related businesses such as public relations, says an adage report.

The company, which has reshuffled its management as it contends with earnings restatements and a probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The holding company said it swung to a quarterly net loss hurt by higher costs, including severance, as it tries to turn itself around.

Group chief executive and chairman David Bell was reported as saying that the results were 'disappointing and unacceptable.' He added that the efforts to increase revenues, including cost controlling measures, would begin to bear fruit in the second half of the year.

Interpublic said its new business wins in the quarter totaled $1.3 billion, including clients such as Merck & Co. and AT&T Corp. , which encouraged some analysts.

The company said it will accelerate its cost-cutting in the second quarter and believes the second-half of the year and first-half of 2004 will form a base for the future. Interpublic said it will give further details on its plans in August.

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