Big Six Agency Stocks Battered by Last Week’s Market Hysteria

25 September 2001

The holding companies for the globe’s six largest advertising groups were not spared a pummelling in last week’s post-attack stock market turmoil. The US markets reopened on September 17, six days after the terrorist outrages.

Hardest hit among the big three at the end of a turbulent week was WPP Group, down at Friday’s close by 22% to $37 per share. Omnicom fell 18% to $60.12; and Interpublic Group lost 16% to finish at $21.08 [all percentages refer to the fall in stock prices from September 10 – the last day of trading before the attacks].

The biggest loser of the six was Cordiant Communications, plummeting 41% to $6.75; Havas Advertising, which trades on Nasdaq, finished 21% down at $6.05; while Publicis Groupe shed 20% to close at $16.90.

Compared with the markets as a whole, the ad industry fared less well than the average stock. At Friday’s close, the Dow Index had fallen by 14%.

Prominent admen also took a personal hit, their stock values declining proportionately. Interpublic doyen and chairman emeritus Phil Geier saw his paper fortune sag from $39m to $33.4m; Omnicom ceo John Wren saw $22m drain from his $122.6m piggybank; while Michael Dolan of Young & Rubicam watched $42m lopped from his $188.1m in WPP stock and options.

However, Merrill Lynch’s Lauren Rich Fine offered a crumb of comfort to the newly impoverished: “[Advertising] holding companies are so diversified in geography and clients that they will find opportunities for growth and will improve,” she consoled.

News source: (USA)