IPG posts better-than-expected 3.7% organic dip

The holding company also announced that Philippe Krakowsky will succeed Michael Roth as CEO in the new year.
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For the fourth quarter in a row, IPG beat analyst expectations – despite the hurdles presented by the COVID-19 pandemic – releasing its Q3 results alongside a succession plan for its CEO.

For the quarter ended in September, organic net revenue at the holding company was down by 3.7% (or 4.5% for the first nine months of 2020).

One way IPG was able to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on its balance sheet was through reduced costs. Operating expenses were down 4.2% year-over-year in Q3, attributable to a 15.8% decrease in office expenses and 4.8% dip in salaries and related expenses. While the salary decrease was primarily driven by reductions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they were offset by increased severance expenses for staff that was let go, as well as increased incentive expenses due to better-than-projected performance in the quarter.

Organic net revenue in IPG’s “All Other Markets” segment, which is comprised of Canada, Africa and the Middle East, grew by 0.6% in Q3, a partial reversal of fortunes that has led to organic net revenue being down by 5.9% for the year so far. Continental Europe was the only other region to experience organic revenue growth in Q3 (2.3%), while the U.S. – IPG’s biggest region – had organic revenue dip by 2.4%. Hit particularly hard were Asia Pacific (with organic revenue down 15.2%) and the U.K. (down 10.3%), continuing negative impacts felt throughout the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

IPG’s Integrated Agency Networks segment – which includes shops such as McCann, FCB, all agencies in the IPG Mediabrands family and data and digital agencies like Huge – had organic revenue dip by only 1.4% in Q3, a measure that now sits at a 3.6% dip for the first nine months of the year. Meanwhile, Constituency Management Group – which includes PR agencies like Weber Shandwick and Golin, sports and entertainment agency Octagon and other specialist offerings – had organic revenue dip by 16.5% in Q3, dragging its year-to-date performance down by 9.8% (CMG represents roughly 16% of the revenue brought in by IAN).

Michael Roth, IPG’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement that the uncertainty of the pandemic is making forecasting Q4 difficult. However, he said the company is “distinctively well-resourced” to handle some consumer trends that will likely endure, such as the shift to ecommerce, the emergence of digital consumer experience and a deeper accountability for brand authenticity and purpose. He added that IPG’s new business pipeline continues to be active and has begun to recover from downturns earlier in the year.

Alongside this quarter’s results, IPG also announced that Philippe Krakowsky, currently EVP and COO of IPG and chairman of IPG Mediabrands, will succeed Roth in the CEO role on Jan. 1, in addition to joining the company’s board of directors. Roth, who became IPG’s co-CEO in 2004 and CEO in 2005, will stay with the company as its executive chairman.