Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Levy said the firm’s 3.1 percent organic revenue spike to $2.18 billion in the first quarter, compared to the same period a year ago, “exceeded even our most optimistic forecasts.”
The Paris-based holding company today joined two of its competitors — Omnicom Group and Havas — in releasing upbeat Q1 numbers this week, an indication, perhaps, that recovery in the global advertising sector has begun in earnest.
The 3.1 percent organic figure — excluding the impact of acquisitions and currency fluctuations — is a big improvement over the 4.4 percent decrease the company suffered in Q1 2009 and the 5.4 percent dip for Q4.
Several factors fueled growth, including gains in North America (5 percent), Asia-Pacific (nearly 7 percent) and Latin America (10 percent)
In fact, revenue rose across all sectors in which the company does business except for Europe, which dipped 1.5 percent.
Digital activities — long an imperative for Publicis — grew 15 percent, and now account for nearly 30 percent of the firm’s revenue. (Large i-shops Razorfish and Digitas are units of Publicis.)
Levy expects Q2 growth to more or less match Q1. While noting that the economic recovery was still “fragile,” he predicted that Publicis would “outperform the sector” for full-year 2010.
That would mean growth exceeding 2.2 percent, the recent revised projection for the global ad market by Publicis-owned media specialist Zenith Optimedia.
Separately, it remains unclear who would succeed Levy once his current deal with Publicis expires at the end of 2011. He has said he would not seek a new term as CEO after leading the company for two decades.
Publicis’ Q1 numbers were the best reported so far by a major agency holding company.
See also: “IPG Execs’ Pay Revealed”