Publicis says annual growth target will be hard to meet

PARIS, July 22 Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:30am EDT

PARIS, July 22 (Reuters) - Advertising agency Publicis warned that it would be "very difficult" to meet its annual target of 4 percent organic sales growth after a second-quarter slowdown that stemmed in part from the failure of its merger with Omnicom in May.

Second-quarter revenue stood at 1.76 billion euros ($2.38 billion), resulting in organic growth of 0.5 percent, compared with 3.3 percent in the first quarter, Publicis said on Tuesday.

Chief Executive Maurice Levy blamed the strong euro for chipping away at Publicis' growth, but also recognised that management had been distracted by the Omnicom deal.

"There was a negative effect from our intense concentration on the merger, which took up enormous amounts of time and effort," he said.

"The situation in Europe and the slow recovery of some emerging markets lead us to be very cautious for the rest of the year," he added.

Publicis would cut costs so as to try to meet its aim of improving margins this year, he said. ($1 = 0.7395 Euros) (Reporting by Leila Abboud and Gwenaelle Barzic; Editing by James Regan)