Merrill Analyst Reverses Prediction of US Ad Decline

31 May 2002

Lauren Rich Fine, a senior entrail-raker at Merrill Lynch, has up-ended her crystal ball to predict a modest rise both in US and global ad spend during the current year – respectively 0.4% growth stateside and a significantly lower worldwide decline of 1.3%.

Fine’s previous forecast was that US adspend would fall year-on-year by 1.5% and globally by 2.1% – substantial upward revisions – begging the question: on what foundation of substance did she base either set of predictions?

But for those who continue to accord credence to the prognostications of analysts in large investment banks, Fine offers the following divinations.

• Newspapers will probably remain flat – up a meager 0.1% as opposed to her earlier forecast of a 1.7% fall.

• Network TV will grow 4.5%, instead of diving 5%.

• Radio will grow 4.6%, not 2%.

• Magazine advertising will decline 2%, less than the 3% fall initially predicted.

As one industry onlooker observed: “Merrill apparently allows Ms Fine a more generous margin for error than it does the companies it tracks.”

Unabashed, Fine summarized her guesswork: “We do believe a recovery is brewing, but it is percolating slowly.” She added that it will not depend on consumer spending as in past recessions, but on corporate spend and profitability. For so long as corporate profits remain weak, the resuscitation will be “reasonably tepid”.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff