Interpublic's Accounting Woes Multiply

18 March 2005

Just six days after alarming investors with news of fiscal reporting delays, Interpublic Group, the globe's third largest agency holding company, yesterday sent further shock waves reverberating through Wall Street.

In a statement issued Thursday, the company admitted it was still "not able to announce a date" for posting its full year results for 2004. Furthermore, release of financial data for this year's January-March quarter has also been postponed.

According to new chairman/ceo Michael Roth, the company is undertaking "extensive manual review procedures to augment our existing control processes in order to protect the integrity of our financial statements".

In less polite circles: guarding its ass against the emergence from cupboards of any more financial skeletons

IPG revealed last Friday it had identified overstatements amounting to about $45 million (€33.65m; £23.39m) in net income and about $145 million in revenue that might have been improperly recognized during the buying spree of the late 1990's [WAMN: 15-Mar-05].

The group's latest regulatory filing adds: "Should a restatement be required, it could also affect periods after 2001."

The effect of the latest announcement on IPG's share price is unknown, having been issued after the close of trading on Thursday.

Chicago analyst Troy Mastin of William Blair & Company was flabbergasted: "I don't know what to think; I just don't know what to say ... [but he continued nonetheless] ... I've said before, almost nothing will surprise me with this company because it's come to be expected. Any of the other advertising holding companies, it would be a different story."

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff