Havas moved back into the black last year despite a significant fall in revenues.

The French ad giant posted net profits of €24 million ($26.4m; £16.4m) for 2002, up from a €58m loss the year before, while revenues sank 11.3% to €1.99 billion.

The turnaround was attributed to a cost-cutting programme implemented in 2001. Operating profits jumped from €81m to €220m, with operating margins rising from 10.4% to 11.6%. Havas’s debt dropped from €703.3m to €664.4m.

Despite the improvements, the group cut its dividend from €0.17 a share to €0.09 to gain more room for financial manoeuvre.

For the year ahead, chairman/ceo Alain de Pouzilhac said Havas would continue trying to improve its margins, regardless of what the Iraq crisis does to the ad market.

“Whether the advertising market ...remains stable or turns negative, we will pursue the same objectives in 2003: the improvement of our ebitda margin and improvement of our cash flow,” promised de Pouzilhac.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff