Lowe Predicts '08 Profit, IPG Sees 11.5% Boost

by , Jul 31, 2008, 7:30 AM
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Michael I. Roth of IPGLowe Worldwide--billed as creative specialists, but a thorn in Interpublic's financial side for some time--looks to return to profitability in 2008. Just about a year ago, the agency lost its GMC business in the U.S., leading to layoffs and further economic hiccups.

But Wednesday, IPG CEO Michael Roth said Lowe is "on target to post a profit for the full year, which is consistent with one of our primary objectives."

Much of the agency's turnaround, he said, is due to success in the UK, where it recently won new business from Unilever.

Roth spoke about the agency's prospects on a conference call to discuss second-quarter results, where IPG saw an 11.5% revenue gain to $1.84 billion and organic revenue up 6.3%. Its stock price rose 7% to $8.51 on the news.

While Lowe was named as one reason for second-quarter success, so was media services, where a new Mediabrands unit has been formed. Roth cited an investment in luring top-notch talent as a priority in media, naming recent hires Matt Seiler from Omnicom and Michael Hudes from Clear Channel as examples.

Still, amidst economic uncertainty, IPG said it has requested that its operating units carefully monitor personnel numbers and refrain from new hires unless revenue growth corresponds.

But Roth reiterated--as he has consistently--that IPG has not been noticeably affected by the economy. He said clients are "clearly" evaluating their spending habits, but there has not been a major pullback on IPG's end.

One example: 7% of total business is in the troubled financial sector, but the principal client there is MasterCard, and Roth said it has largely maintained its marketing investment level.

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