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Ipsos' revenue for the year up 19.5% to 1.3 billion euros

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MUMBAI: Global market and ad research company Ipsos has posted a 19.5 per cent jump in revenue to 1.3 billion euros in the financial year ended December 2011, while operating profit rose by 34.1 per cent to 160.2 million euros.

Synovate’s revenues remained stable in 2011. Emerging markets contributed 34 per cent to Group revenues (+3 points versus 2010), with organic growth of 13.2 per cent. By geographic area, the Asia-Pacific region led the way with a 56.4 per cent revenue growth, while by business line the public opinion sector continued to be affected by public spending cuts in certain countries and the advertising research sector saw a slowdown in growth from the mid-year, mainly due to a reduction in the number of initiatives by several clients.

Consolidated revenues 2011 2010 Change 2011/2010
Europe, Middle East and Africa 587.5 501.8 17.1 per cent
Americas 575.7 511.3 12.6 per cent
Asia-Pacific 199.7 127.7 56.4 per cent
Full-year revenues 1,362.9  1,140.8 19.5 per cent

The Group generated operating margin of 11.8 per cent, an increase of 130 basis points relative to 2010. Operating margin was positively impacted by the consolidation of Synovate in the fourth quarter of the year alone,contributing 80 basis points to this improvement.

In view of the traditionally seasonal nature of market research activities, around 30 per cent of revenues are recognised in the fourth quarter, while operating expenses - excluding direct costs relating to data collection - are recognised on a more straight-line basis. Consequently, Synovate’s operating margin is highest in the fourth quarter.

In millions of euros 2011 2010 Change 2011/2010
Revenues 1,362.9 1,140.8 19.5 per cent
Gross profit 872.3 722.7 20.7 per cent
Gross profit / Revenues 64.0% 63.4%  
Operating profit 160.2 119.5 34.1 per cent

Gross margin, which is calculated by deducting external direct variable costs attributable to contracts from revenues, grew at a faster pace than revenues (up 20.7%), reaching 64 per cent vs 63.4 per cent in 2010. Improvement in gross margin was driven by the ongoing shift to online surveys, particularly in Europe, and reflects the Group’s solid ability to maintain prices in emerging markets.

Other operating income and expenses totalled 5.3 million euros. This figure mainly consists of non-recurring items related to staff departures, as well as foreign exchange losses relating to commercial transactions. Foreign exchange losses totalled 1.2 million euros over the period. Operating margin rose by 34.1 per cent year-on-year to 160.2 million euros.

The acquisition of Synovate resulted in a disbursement on 12 October 2011 corresponding to an enterprise value of 525 million pounds (599.7 million euros - exchange rate of 1 euro = 0.87535 pounds as at 12 October 2011), calculated on a “cash free/debt free” basis and on the basis of there being a minimum level of working capital in the Synovate group. This amount is subject to the customary price adjustments relative to actual levels of cash and debt including contractual debt like items and relative to the actual working capital level as at 30 September 2011.

One-third of the acquisition was financed by means of a capital increase and two-thirds by debt and use of available cash.

In addition, in 2011, Ipsos acquired TMG in Central America and Espace TV in France, as well as buying up minority stakes in certain emerging markets, particularly China. Acquisitions therefore represented a total of 616 million euros. CBI in Vietnam, the acquisition of which was announced on 15 December, will be integrated on 1 January 2012.

2012, the company says, began in uncertainty. The main uncertainty is geopolitical, with a few questions without answers but not without consequences. Iran - which may pose a nuclear threat - is causing oil prices to rise. China - which may be in the progress of changing its economic and social model - is creating hope for all those who have something to sell. The USA - which may be in the process of defining the rules of a fruitful cohabitation in conjunction with the Chinese authorities - seems to be moving away from the isolationist/xenophobic dreams of the Tea Party. Latin America - probably - and Asia - without doubt - are continuing to develop, barely hampered by less dynamic trading with developed countries.

It is only Europe that does not know where it is heading, lectured by the Chinese who need us to start by getting our accounts back into order before they may agree to lend us a bit of money - but in return for what?

Europe is neither protective nor visionary. It is lagging behind, not because of a lack of talent and resources but because of a lack of leadership. It accepts stagnation, imprecision, improvisation - with those meetings that last until dawn - and division. It is losing some of its best people, who will go and try things out in places that allow for entrepreneurship and success. It does not even complain, apart from about others.

The Greeks are Germanophobic and the Germans think similarly about the Greeks. Mr Xi - once again, the Chinese - has chosen to make his inaugural visit before his probable promotion to Premier, and to make a stop in Turkey, whose disputed candidacy for inclusion in the European Union is a symbol of the disturbed state.

Ipsos will focus on four main priorities in 2012.

1 Continuing with, and finalising, the merger with Synovate. A great deal has already been done: teams have been put together and managers appointed. The range of protocols and methodologies offered by Ipsos to its clients has been reviewed, factoring in the best of the two companies’ knowhow. Everything has been done to make these methods as simple and valid as possible. Operations and production centres are in the process of being integrated and streamlined. Choices have been made so that Ipsos presents competitive advantages in terms of cost and quality.

The Ipsos brand name is now used all over the world. Clients have been kept up to date about our progress and will be visited systematically over the next few months in order to enter into a dialogue with them about their requirements and how Ipsos needs to organise itself and work so as to satisfy their needs.

The “Open World” project to combine Ipsos and Synovate is completed . Part of the team is continuing to work under on the combination under the name of “The Better Ipsos”. This means ensuring that all of the solutions chosen are correctly implemented and that the company is ready for action in the 84 countries in which it operates, and with all of its clients.

2 Cutting and investing. The target synergies presented at the time of the Synovate acquisition will be achieved. They provide the leeway needed for the development of Consumer Insight Services. The plans consist of producing survey data more quickly, more cheaply and to higher quality standards, as well as enhancing the teams working with clients, thanks in particular to a higher level of training and qualification. In future, Ipsos will work on a more global basis to make itself more efficient while also strengthening its resources in key markets in order to be more relevant. Only indepth knowledge of countries and markets will allow Consumer Insight Services to deliver high quality services.

3. Innovation. Over the last few years, Ipsos has introduced a number of new methodologies with the aim of enabling its clients to benefit from its accumulated expertise, based on its mastery in the use of technology. Over the next few weeks, some of these new solutions - in particular those relating to social networking and mobile platforms - will be placed in dedicated structures operating under the Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange brand name. These operating units will be rolled out in seven markets to begin with: the USA, Canada, the UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands and China. They will be used to support Ipsos’s existing teams in order to roll out shared platforms and expertise.

In addition, IOTX, Ipsos’ business lines and other Ipsos teams are carrying out around 30 different projects with the aim of obtaining better understanding of people’s behaviour and reactions. A particular effort has been made to define - using non-verbal techniques - the best ways of involving consumers and companies in generating new ideas, and also using neuroscience to collect and decode the emotions aroused by advertisements or ideas developed to promote brands, products and services. Finally, innovation is a factor in determining efficiency. Within the next year, all of our surveys will be conducted via a single multi-modal platform that will enable all multi-country projects to benefit from a standardised system exclusive to Ipsos for implementing and monitoring these projects. The aim of all this is to reduce the time and money spent on production.

4. Involving people. The company says that it believes that one of Ipsos’s strengths is its ability to attract and retain talented people. Surveys conducted by Ipsos before and after the acquisition of Synovate was closed show that the deal has been well received. Since October, it has been able to overcome a number of obstacles. Staff have chosen to describe Ipsos as the “Home of Researchers” due to its unique characteristic: it is the only major research company that is still controlled and managed by industry professionals, and in recognition of its culture based on absolute respect of the clients interests and the integrity of our methods and ways of working. In June, Ipsos celebrates the fifth anniversary of its “Proud to be Ipsos” manifesto. Everything will be done to preserve this state of mind and ensure that it helps to maintain an optimal standard of services and the extension of its Consumer Insight Services.

In 2013, Ipsos expects to achieve stronger organic growth than the market and operating margin of around 11 per cent.

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