April 27, 2018 / 3:06 PM / 3 months ago

RPT-UPDATE 2-Interpublic points to bullish 2018 for advertising

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By Shariq Khan

April 27 (Reuters) - Advertising company Interpublic Group of Cos Inc outperformed rivals Publicis and Omnicom on sales in the first quarter as U.S. and international clients spent more, pointing to strong growth this year.

The New York-based marketing firm, which includes Madison Avenue icon McCann, reported better-than-expected 3.6 percent organic growth for the quarter and guided toward the high-end of its 2018 forecast on Friday, pushing shares 4 percent higher.

U.S. sales grew 4.3 percent and global numbers by 2.6 percent, dwarfing expectations of 0.88 percent overall growth, according to data and analytics firm FactSet.

“3.6 percent is better than Omnicom and Publicis, which themselves surprised to the upside at 2.4 percent and 1.6 percent respectively,” Macquarie Research analysts said in a note.

The company - one of the big-four which now dominate the advertising industry globally - said it would now be nearer 3 percent growth for the year.

That all pointed to a boost this year compared to a sluggish 2017.

“We believe we are seeing evidence of marketers returning to growth mode which would clearly be positive for us as well as our sector,” Interpublic’s Chief Executive Michael Roth said on a post earnings conference call with analysts.

“While there is still macro uncertainty, we continue to believe that economic fundamentals are sound especially in the U.S.” Roth added.

Interpublic, whose clients include Google, Microsoft and Coca-Cola, said foreign currency also boosted revenue by 3 percent.

Total revenue rose to $2.17 billion in the first quarter ended March 31 from $2.06 billion a year earlier.

Higher expenses and one-time divestiture charges led the company to report a net loss available to IPG Common stockholders of $14.1 million, or 4 cents per share, compared with a profit of $24.7 million, or 6 cents per share, a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, the company earned 3 cents per share, missing analyst estimates of 5 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. (Reporting by Shariq Khan in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Patrick Graham)

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