Interpublic Group, the planet's second largest agency holding company, got a cautious 'thumbs-horizontal' verdict Friday from credit rating specialist Moody's Investors Services.

Following a ten-month review of Interpublic's debt status, the credit commissar decided not to downgrade its current ratings for senior unsecured debt (Baa3) and senior subordinated long-term debt (Ba1).

Many analysts had expected a demotion in the wake of the agency group's financial and operational problems. But Moody's said its decision to maintain IPG's ratings was determined by the actions of new managers, who have "significantly strengthened the company's balance sheet, shored up liquidity and made progress improving operating performance."

However, the agency group is not yet out of the woods. "Moody's believes that Interpublic still faces significant business risks," cautioned the debt deliberator.

These relate to the cyclical and competitive nature of the industry, an environment that requires the group "to strengthen credit metrics further and then maintain a conservative financial profile."

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