* Q1 EPS 52 cents; Wall St. estimate 50 cents
* Revenue rises 6.3 pct to $2.92 bln; estimate $2.74 bln
* Shares rise 6.4 percent to new year high
By Paul Thomasch
NEW YORK, April 20 Omnicom Group Inc (OMC.N) on
Tuesday said quarterly profit slipped, but
stronger-than-expected revenue growth and upbeat comments about
the state of the advertising business lifted shares 6 percent.
Omnicom, home to a host of advertising, media and public
relations agencies, including BBDO Worldwide and DDB Worldwide,
benefited from stronger revenue in the United States, Africa
and the Middle East. Europe, however, remained a weak spot.
While executives noted that the overall 6.3 percent
increase in revenue was aided by easy comparisons from a year
ago when spending on advertising and marketing was tanking,
they also said business was on the upswing. Sports marketing
and public relations, in particular, have bounced back, they
"The general business environment continues to stabilize
and improve, and as we look at individual countries and
regions, we are cautiously optimistic about continued growth,"
Chief Executive John Wren said on a conference call after the
earnings were announced on Tuesday.
Omnicom, whose clients include Anheuser-Busch, McDonald's
and Pfizer, said first-quarter income fell to $163.4 million,
or 52 cents a share, down from $164.5 million, or 53 cents a
share, a year earlier.
The results were slightly higher than the 50 cents-a-share
profit that was expected on average by Wall Street analysts,
according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue rose 6.3 percent to $2.92 billion, due to solid
international sales outside of Europe. Like profit, revenue
also surpassed expectations.
Organic revenue, a closely watched industry benchmark that
excludes foreign currency impact and recent acquisitions, rose
2.1 percent. That marked a sharp improvement from the fourth
quarter, when organic revenue declined 6.3 percent.
Shares of Omnicom, one of the bellwethers for the
advertising industry, rose $2.59 to $43.71 in early trading on
the New York Stock Exchange. Earlier, they touched a new year
high of $43.91.
Growing confidence about the health of advertising helped
lift other media stocks as well. Interpublic Group (IPG.N),
another major advertising holding company, rose 7.3 percent;
New York Times Co (NYT.N), Gannett Co (GCI.N) and McClatchy Co
(MNI.N), all of which depend on advertising sales, were all up
more than 2 percent.
(Reporting by Paul Thomasch, editing by Maureen Bavdek)