World number four agency holding company Publicis Groupe announced Tuesday that its revenues rose 20.2% in 2002 – thanks almost entirely to its acquisition of Bcom3 Group – enabling it to meet its full year earnings forecasts.

Shorn of Bcom3’s contribution, Publicis organic revenues actually fell during the year by 3.9%, limping into the butt end of analysts’ consensus expectations. Fourth quarter revenues at €642 million ($689.28m; £426.47m) , however, showed an improvement on the first three periods and boosted the annual figure to €2.926 billion.

But on a constant basis (without Bcom3), the final quarter reflected a decrease of 7.9% due to unfavorable exchange rates as the euro appreciated in value.

Commented chairman/ceo Maurice Levy: “The year 2002 was in no way in line with expert forecasts. It was notable for its climate of prudence and uncertainty, making forecasting extremely difficult.

“Our 2002 numbers lead me to believe that we should be in a position to realize an EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax depreciation and amortization) margin in the vicinity of 14% on our revenues, which is in line with our objective. As for 2003, I remain personally confident of our ability to reach a margin of 15 per cent EBITDA towards the end of the year.”

As to 2003, Levy’s crystal ball remains under the wraps although he declared himself “even more certain that our group is extremely well prepared for the current period and to benefit from the upturn when it occurs.”

Data sourced from: Publicis website; additional content by WARC staff