Havas Back on the Recovery Road

10 February 2005

Three factors have launched troubled French agency holding company Havas on the road to recovery: an influx of new business in 2004, organic revenue growth of 2% during the year, and a robust performance during the four quarter.

In line with French financial practice, Havas does not publish its full year results concurrent with its final quarter. However, chairman/ceo Alain de Pouzilhac was in upbeat mode.

"Our results, to be presented in early March, will show that all the targets management set itself over the year have been achieved and even exceeded," he said. "This is the clearest possible demonstration that our strategy is the right one and is bearing fruit."

Gross revenues in 2004 totalled €1.49 billion ($1.9bn; £1.03bn) compared with 2003 revenues of €1.65bn. The 0.9% shortfall is attributed to the sale of some Havas business units during the group's recent restructuring.

But there'll be an inevitable dip on the recovery curve that can't as yet be quantified - the bottom line impact of the recent exodus of two major accounts, Intel and Volkswagen.

Regionally, France, Asia Pacific and Latin America were the torchbearers; while in North America Arnold Worldwide, MPG and the healthcare and marketing divisions of Euro RSCG reaped a record amount of new business. The group's UK units hover on the verge of breakeven but have yet to return to profit despite positive organic growth.

Meantime, corporate raider Vincent Bolloré, having amassed a 20% stake in Havas, maintains an enigmatic silence as to his intentions.

If he plans a bid he'll not be pleased at the positive effect of the latest numbers on the group's share price; but should profit taking be the name of Bolloré's game he'll be rubbing his hands.

Havas' share price rose 3.1% to €4.33 on the Paris Bourse Wednesday morning.

Data sourced from BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff