PARIS: French-headquartered advertising conglomerate Publicis Groupe has posted better-than-expected first quarter sales and is forecasting good revenue growth for the year, despite uncertainties in the global economy.

The firm says Q1 revenues rose 5.4% compared with the year earlier period and it reported net new business of €764 million ($1.19bn; £600m) for the first three months of 2008.

Chairman Maurice Lévy (pictured) says clients are still working to plan and adds: "I am confident but at the same time realistic. We are in an economic climate that calls for some caution ... There are many very positive signs."

Emerging markets accounted for 21.6% of turnover in the quarter, with average underlying growth in China, Russia and India reaching 21.4%.

All businesses and all regions contributed to quarterly growth with the exception of healthcare communications in North America.

However, Lévy was optimistic that: "Our healthcare communications business, still adversely impacted by the difficulties of the sector, should be back to positive growth before the end of the year."

Publicis, which acquired digital ad firm Digitas last year, said its digital business accounted for 18.4% of revenue in Q1.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff