In another sign that Adland is rapidly rebounding from last year’s pandemic-induced recession, Publicis Groupe posted first-half results Thursday, reporting that it surpassed its performance for the same period in 2019 and has fully recovered revenue declines from the first half of last year.
The company also upgraded its full-year performance guidance and expects to fully recover to pre-pandemic growth levels a year earlier than expected with organic revenue growth of 7%. The one caveat: that COVID-19 doesn’t surge again in way that disrupts the global economy like last year.
The company’s second quarter 2021 organic growth reached 17.1%, more than offsetting the 13% decline that the firm suffered in the same period a year ago. Q2 net revenue was €2.539 billion, up nearly 11%.
First half net revenue was €5.493 billion, up 4%, with a 9.7% organic revenue gain.
Publicis Group is the third holding company this week (following Omnicom and Interpublic) to report sharp rebounds from a year ago when the pandemic kicked in with full force.
Publicis Groupe Chairman and CEO Arthur Sadoun credited the company’s operating model and the improving economy for the strong results. “Not only did we fully recover the revenue lost in 2020, but all of our KPI’s over the first half exceeded 2019 levels,” he said.
By region, the first half overperformance was largely driven by the U.S. and Asia, where organic growth for both was up 7% versus 2019.
In the Q2 of this year U.S. operations were up 15.2% year over year with Epsilon, PMX and Sapient all delivering growth exceeding 25%.
Asia was up 13.6% for the period and Europe rose 23%.
Growth drivers in the U.S. included strong demand for digital media services, first-party data management and direct-to-consumer products and services. Health operations grew by double digits in the quarter.
While Sadoun said he is confident the company has the right asset mix to grow faster than the market as a whole he declined to offer specific guidance past 2021. “The virus makes predicting difficult,” he said.
That’s true for when company staff will return to the office on a regular basis worldwide. Decisions and timing about return-to-office models will be made locally, he said. “We want to be cautious and give ourselves time to see how things progress.”
The top consideration with those decisions is employee safety, he added. He cited India, parts of which are still in lockdown. The Groupe has approximately 18,000 employees in India. As the country opened up vaccination to a wider age-range, it contracted with a number of healthcare providers across the country to make it easier for staff and their families, to get access to the vaccine. The cost of the vaccination, for staff and their families, was covered by the Groupe.
In other markets like the US, varying levels of support have been offered related to obtaining the vaccine when it is available such as offering time off to get shots, recover from side effects or accompany family members to get their vaccines.