NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Interpublic ( IPG), the ad agency, posted a huge drop in second-quarter profit, missing Wall Street targets. Investors sold off the company's shares Tuesday in response. Not helping matters for the stock was the Conference Board's consumer confidence report, which slid more than market watchers were expecting -- not generally a good sign for those who make money hawking stuff to consumers. Shares of Interpublic have been beaten down as much as any print media stock during the ad recession, but have rallied some 64% since February. They were headed in the opposite direction Tuesday, trading at $5.50, down 69 cents, or 11%, on heavy volume. Before the bell, Interpublic reported a bottom line of $21 million, or 4 cents a share, down 76% from last year's rather unspectacular $88 million, or 17 cents share. It was also a bad miss of analysts' per-share expectations of 10 cents. On the top line, the declines were less severe. Interpublic took in revenue of $1.47 billion, down 20% from the $1.84 billion it recorded a year ago. A large part of that drop resulted from the auto sector's widescale retraction from the ad market, as well as a stronger dollar, the company said. Excluding the currency impact, Interpublic said its "organic" revenue decline was on the order of 14.5%. Interpublic didn't give specific financial guidance. But CEO Michael Roth said in a statement that the company expects its "organic revenue result for the second half of 2009 should be consistent with the year-to-date performance."
Roth also strove to show confidence in the face of such dour figures. "All of our agencies are competitive in the marketplace and we are active in major pitches at the local and global level," he said. He wasn't more specific. Like age and starlets, the recession has not been kind to ad firms, of course, though perhaps not to the degree it has Interpublic. Omnicom ( OMC) last week reported a 24% decline in profits, while Publicis ( PUBGY), the giant Paris-based owner of Saatchi & Saatchi, said earnings for the first half of 2009 fell 13% from a year ago. --Scott Eden reported this story from New York.