Interpublic to Appease Investors with New Performance Data

11 September 2003

Proffering an olive branch to Wall Street, Interpublic Group is promising to disclose more financial information about its businesses.

The marketing services giant – the second-largest agency holding company in the world according to Advertising Age’s 2002 study – is planning to give investors an unprecedented insight into its workings by introducing new performance measures early next year.

By then, declared chief financial officer Christopher J Coughlin, Interpublic “will be in a position to come to [investors] with a set of quantitative metrics that will provide a clear understanding of our business and its prospects.”

The initiative is unusual for an agency holding company. Most tend to deliver aggregated results that shed little light on the performance of their constituent networks.

This has been the case at IPG, which has traditionally disclosed minimal financial information about such businesses as McCann-Erickson WorldGroup and FCB Group. However, the performance of these divisions came under the spotlight earlier this year after accounting problems emerged at McCann, leading to a series of restatements.

“Investors are asking questions about segments at these larger companies,” declared Bear Stearns analyst Alexia Quadrani. “There is a chance that one of the companies, not all, may eventually begin to provide some segment information as another data point.”

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff