IPG organic revenue down by nearly 10% in Q2

The holding company beat expectations, but more strategic actions and cost reductions are expected for the second half of 2020.
Michael Roth_Landscape_04-25-16

While visibility on what the rest of 2020 will look like remains “unclear,” IPG is cautiously optimistic after “outperforming” its competition in the sector, keeping its losses in organic revenue just outside of double digits in Q2.

On Tuesday, Omnicom announced a 24.7% drop in organic revenue for Q2, with Publicis reporting a 13% dip last week. Today, IPG reported that its organic net revenue fell by US$280 million in Q2, or 9.9%, year-over-year – which makes the company’s organic revenue 5% lower for the full first half of the year compared to 2019.

In IPG’s “all other markets” region – which includes Canada, Africa and the Middle East – organic net revenue was down 14.7%. In the U.S., its largest contributor to revenue, it was down 8%.

CEO Michael Roth said on an investor call that there was “meaningful variation” by client and sector in terms of revenue reductions, but the overall impact was not as severe compared to expectations and its own competition, adding that spending by IPG’s largest clients held up “relatively well.” Healthcare, retail, food, tech and telco clients performed best in the quarter, with spending down among auto, financial and industrial clients.

Roth attributed its better-than-expected performance to investments made to differentiate IPG, such as in data and media, as well as its “open architecture” model for collaboration between agencies and services.

Of course, there were also a number of cost reductions IPG undertook in Q2. That includes a 5.4% reduction, or US$70 million, to salaries and related expenses (which was partially offset by severance expenses). Office expenses were reduced to 17.1% of net revenue (compared to 18.2% in Q2 2019). IPG also incurred US$112.6 million in restructuring charges to earn longer-term savings in operations and “permanently transform” its business. All told, IPG reduced its global real estate footprint by 500,000 square feet and its workforce by 1%.

Roth said additional strategic actions and further cost reductions are expected in the second half of the year. Looking forward, he said there is a strong pipeline of new business opportunities for IPG, which is indicative of pent-up demand, but cautioned that it is still difficult to predict how that might translate into revenue, given the uncertainty of the pandemic and high-spend marketing occasions, such as the professional sports calendar and back-to-school season.