April 19, 2012 / 5:30 AM / 7 years ago

Publicis Q1 sales up, sees growth pick up in H2

PARIS, April 19 (Reuters) - Advertising agency Publicis reported on Thursday a 13 percent hike in first-quarter sales and said it expected growth to pick up in the second half of 2012 after a slower second-quarter.

The company is predicting a subdued second-quarter as clients shift their advertising budget to the second half of the year to coincide with the London Olympics and the U.S. presidential election.

“We should see a deceleration of growth in the second quarter and a stronger second half compared with the first half,” Chief Executive Maurice Levy told reporters during a conference call.

Publicis, which is the world’s biggest ad group by revenue and competes with WPP and Omnicom, reported a 13 percent rise in first-quarter sales to 1.45 billion euros ($1.90 billion), driven by the U.S. and fast-growing emerging markets as well as digital advertising.

Organic growth in the quarter was 4.1 percent, the company said.

Market research group Zenith Optimedia, which is a unit of Publicis, in March forecast that the global advertising market would grow by 4.8 percent in 2012, up from 3.5 percent in 2011.

Levy said the company would continue to invest in acquisitions, but ruled out large M&A deals.

“We don’t have this type of plans,” he said.

Publicis has secured several acquisitions since the start of 2012, including Pixelpark, Germany’s largest independent digital communications company.

Shares in Publicis, which lost around 9 percent of their value in 2011, closed 2.44 percent lower at 40.12 euros on Wednesday, giving the company a market capitalisation of around 7.33 billion.

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