J C Decaux (calendar Q4)
The French outdoor advertising giant reported Q4 sales down slightly as billboard revenues fell to €437.7 million ($561.0m; £296.66m) from €440.6m in the same period of 2002. Full-year sales fell 2.2% to €1.544 billion, in line with the company's forecast.
    During the period street furniture revenues rose 2.5% to €246m, but billboard and transport sales fell 3.7% and 5.4% respectively.
    Shares in the company have performed well recently, adding around 10% so far this year after a 20% rise in 2003.

News Corporation (fiscal Q2)
The Sydney-based, New York-headquartered global media group, controlled by the Murdoch family, posted strong profit growth in the last quarter of 2003, driven by a revenue surge at its cable networks and newspapers.
    Net profits leapt 51% to $361 million (€281.72m; £281.72m) on revenues of $5.6 billion. Excluding special items, profits rose 28% to $410m, or $0.30 per diluted share.
    Rupert Murdoch pronounced the company well-positioned to compete with rivals, including the mooted Comcast-Disney combination, although NewsCorp has yet to benefit from DirecTV, the satellite service it acquired at the end of last year. "We now have what I believe is a near-perfect balance of assets," Murdoch said.
    Loss-making US broadcast network Fox saw its viewer ratings sag during the quarter. But it benefited from higher advertising rates, while its talent search show American Idol has given it strong momentum into 2004.
    The newspaper division notched a 67% year-on-year revenue increase on the strength of Australian advertising sales and a similar ad and circulation-fuelled surge in the UK.

PSA Peugeot Citroën (full year)
The French-based carmaker, Europe's second-largest by sales, suffered a drop in 2003 net profits due to the strong euro, ageing models and a weak domestic market.
    Net income for 2003 fell to €1.5 billion ($1.92bn; £1.02bn) from €1.7bn last year, while operating income slipped to €2.195bn from €2.913bn. Sales dropped year-on-year to €54.2bn from €54.4.
    However, results exceeded analysts’ forecasts and Peugeot shares rose 5% to €39.85 at midday Wednesday in Paris. The company predicts moderate sales growth for 2004 and overall results "to remain at a level close to that of the second half of 2003".

Publicis Groupe (fiscal Q4)
Chairman Maurice Lévy on Wednesday announced unexpectedly strong revenue growth of 5.2% to €1.1 billion ($1.41bn; £0.745bn) in the fourth quarter of 2003.
    "Europe, for the first time since 2001, is showing positive growth," he said. "Although France, the Netherlands and Scandinavia are negative, the deterioration in Germany has stopped, and the UK and Spain are showing solid growth."
    Organic revenues at the world's fourth largest advertising group rose 2% to €3.86bn for the year as a whole, compared with a 3.9% fall in 2002 and the 1.2% growth predicted by analysts.
    "We saw an acceleration of growth towards the end of the year which was way beyond our expectations," Lévy said, pointing to new business wins, a turnround in the US and Asia-Pacific and a higher rate of invoicing.
   Publicis would achieve its target of 15% operating profit margins during the second half of 2002 and again this year.

Unilever (fiscal Q4)
Fourth-quarter net profit at the globe's second largest advertiser (after Procter & Gamble) rose twofold amid lower charges and restructuring costs, and gains from asset sales.
    The Anglo-Dutch group, which markets over four hundred brands, posted net profit of €811 million ($1039m; £549.54m) or 81 European cents a share, compared with €230 million, or 27 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. Sales fell 4% to €11.93 billion, compared with €12.37 billion in 2003.
    The company plans to focus on improving a weak performance by its Slim-Fast products and its high-end fragrances. Unilever said it expects low double-digit growth in earnings per share for 2004.
    Chairman Niall FitzGerald announced plans to retire and will be succeeded by Patrick Cescau. No other details about the handover were forthcoming.

Data sourced from multiple origins; additional content by WARC staff