French Kiss-Off: Havas, Publicis Get Cold Shoulder in New York - TheStreet

Man, do French ad giants Havas Advertising (HADV) and Publicis (PUB) - Get Report have bad timing, or what?

The Paris-based crosstown rivals, which began listing their American depositary receipts on U.S. exchanges in the last several weeks, have since seen those ADRs sink, along with most other advertising and media stocks out there.

Publicis began listing its ADRs on the

New York Stock Exchange

on Sept. 12 after closing its deal to acquire

Saatchi & Saatchi

; Maurice Levy, Publicis' chairman and chief executive, even rang the Big Board's opening bell a few weeks back. But since opening on the NYSE, Publicis' shares have tumbled more than 15%. Friday afternoon, Publicis was down $1, to $30.13.

Havas, which just completed its acquisition of

Snyder Communications

, has fared only marginally better. Since its ADRs started trading on the

Nasdaq

on Wednesday at $17.31, they have dropped 10%. Friday afternoon, Havas fell 31 cents to $15.31.

"The whole sector's been off," says one Havas investor who requested anonymity. "It's more coincidental than anything else."

The companies have also suffered from a lack of visibility on Wall Street. Despite the fact that senior executives have come to New York to schmooze analysts, there has been little coverage of either stock.

But other ad biggies like

Omnicom Group

(OMC) - Get Report

and

Interpublic Group

(IPG) - Get Report

have tumbled as well in recent weeks on fears of an advertising slowdown. Media stocks too have been slapped around by those same investor fears.

This week, media buying agency

Zenith Media

added fuel to that fire; the New York firm is now projecting what it calls a "significant slowdown" in ad spending growth rates, due mostly to a cooling economy, over the next several years. That said, total ad spending is projected to hit $223 billion this year and rise to $251 billion by 2002.