Analysts Mixed On 2012 IPG Revs

Michael-RothIn a preview of Interpublic’s first-quarter financial results, Nomura Securities analyst Michael Nathanson is calling the company’s performance -- based on his research -- just “so-so” and is maintaining his “neutral” rating on the firm. The company will release its first-quarter results Thursday.

Nathanson predicts that IPG’s organic revenue growth for the quarter will be reported at just 2.6% -- below that of competitors. Omnicom Group for example, said its first-quarter organic growth rose 5.1%, Publicis Groupe and Havas reported comparable growth of 4.1% and 3.5%, respectively.

Nathanson also forecast an organic revenue decline of 2% for the company in the U.S., due to client losses including Microsoft and S.C. Johnson.

“While we don’t dislike IPG, we think its model is not optimal at this point of the business cycle,” Nathanson stated in a note to clients.

Predicting lower growth for the company in 2012 isn’t that tough a task. Earlier this year, IPG CEO Michael Roth said the company was targeting about 3% organic growth for the full year -- about half what it achieved in 2011. Roth said the slowing growth was due to lingering clouds over the macro economy -- particularly in Europe, the company’s poorest-performing geographic sector last year. He added that the company isn’t counting on a rebound in the region this year.

In its preview, stock analyst firm Zacks reported that it was “cautious on the upcoming [IPG] results, based on intense pricing pressures witnessed worldwide in a fiercely competitive ad world.”

The firm also noted that “fluctuating global [Gross Domestic Product] tainted with rigorous client spending cuts as well as rising operating expense may lead to uncertainty.”

Longer term, however, Zacks noted: "We are likely to see impressive results from the company’s new business investments in the upcoming quarters.” The company said it was maintaining its “long-term Outperform” recommendation on IPG for now.

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