Interpublic Group Of Companies Q2 2010 Earnings Call Transcript

Interpublic Group of Companies Q2 2010 Earnings Call Transcript
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Interpublic Group of Companies (IPG)

Q2 2010 Earnings Call

July 29, 2010 8:30 am ET


Frank Mergenthaler - Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President

Michael Roth - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Executive Committee

Jerome Leshne - Senior Vice President of Investor Relations


Matthew Walker - Nomura Securities Co. Ltd.

Peter Stabler - Crédit Suisse AG

Daniel Salmon - BMO Capital Markets U.S.

Alexia Quadrani - JP Morgan Chase & Co

Ben Swinburne - Morgan Stanley

David Bank - RBC Capital Markets Corporation

James Dix - Wedbush Securities Inc.

Matthew Chesler - Deutsche Bank AG



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Good morning, and welcome to the Interpublic Group Second Quarter 2010 Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] I would now like to introduce Mr. Jerry Leshne, Senior Vice President of Investor Relations. Sir, you may begin.

Jerome Leshne

Good morning, and thank you for joining us. We have posted our earnings release and our slide presentation on our website,, and we'll refer to both in the course of this call.

This morning, we are joined by Michael Roth and Frank Mergenthaler. We will begin with prepared remarks to be followed by Q&A. We plan to conclude before market open at 9:30 a.m. Eastern. During this call, we will refer to forward-looking statements about our company, which are subject to the uncertainties in the cautionary statement included in our earnings release and the slide presentation and further detailed in our 10-Q and other filings with the SEC.

At this point, it is my pleasure to turn things over to Michael Roth.

Michael Roth

Thank you, Jerry, and thank you, all, for joining us as we review our results for the second quarter and first half of 2010. I'll begin by covering the headlines of our performance. Frank will then take us through the financial results. After his remarks, I'll return with specific observations relating to the agencies and closing comments before we move on to the Q&A.

Overall, it's fair to say that we're quite pleased with second quarter performance that was strong on both the top and bottom line. As reported, revenue increased 9.7% in the quarter, and revenue was up 8.5% organically. The improvement relative to last year is significant, as is the sequential change from the first quarter. As was the case in the first quarter, we saw results strengthen month-to-month during Q2. We also saw contributions pretty much across the board in terms of geography, client sectors and across our portfolio of agencies. Of course, it should be noted that the severity of the downturn last year means we had the benefit of favorable comps this quarter. Nonetheless, organic revenue increase of 13.6% in the U.S. clearly shows that the signs of economic recovery are giving clients greater opportunities to engage in marketing spend.

Activity in developing regions are continue to pick up, and we experienced double-digit organic growth in Brazil, China and India during the second quarter. While Europe showed sequential improvement, we remain cautious about the situation in that region, and the European recovery is not factored into our budgets or operating plans for 2010.

In terms of client sectors, growth in the quarter and year-to-date has been very strong in the Auto, Retail and Financial Services sector. With the major challenges that we all faced in 2009 seemingly behind us, companies in every industry are increasingly looking forward. They are asking our agencies for innovative new programs and integrated, multi-agency solutions that can help them win market share by fully engaging consumers in today's complex media landscape. In fact, all of the major client sectors we track are up for both the quarter and the first half, except for the Tech and Telecom sector, in which, as we previously mentioned, lost assignments with some large clients in 2009 will weigh on our results for the balance of the year by approximately 1%.

Our pipeline is solid at the regional and local level and at all our major agencies. On a trailing 12-month basis, we remained net new business positive through the end of the second quarter. All told, our top line performance is ahead of where we had experienced it to be at this point in time. That's a reflection of the strength of our offerings and our people, as well as the broader-economic stabilization and recovery in a number of major world markets.

And speaking to clients and our operating unit leadership, we're consistently hearing that the tone of the business is improving. But there is still a high degree of macro uncertainty as well as concerns domestically about jobs and consumer confidence. So we remain very conservative in how we manage the business and highly focused on our cost discipline.

The work we've already done in that regard was evident in the second quarter's very strong profitability. Our operating income of $177 million was significantly improved from $97 million a year ago. Q2 operating margin of 11% was well above last year's 6.6% in the comparable period. Earnings per share were $0.15 compared to $0.04 in the second quarter of 2009. From 2006 to 2008 we put into public on a path of dramatically improved margin performance. During the first half of this year, as we emerge from the recession and return to a more normal business environment, we are demonstrating the capacity to get back on that positive margin trajectory.

Another area in which our focus and hard work is bearing fruit is our long-standing commitment to conservative balance sheet management. Financial strength and flexibility have been key to our success, initially, as we retooled our company and more recently, as we moved through last year's severe economic problems. This approach has once again been validated, as we've seen upgrades from major credit rating agencies during the past few months.

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