LONDON In March 2009, industry new business was up 3 percent against a 56 percent decline in the year-earlier month, but down 32 percent on a rolling 12-month basis, according to research from Nomura International.
Nomura analyst Matthew Walker noted that last month had one of the weakest early comparative time periods with 2008. He said industry performance last month was 46 percent below the new-business average for March in the past three years.
According to Walker, Omnicom Group won the most new business last month, with $97 million in net wins from marketers like Reebok, Soy Joy, Glidden and Philips. WPP Group came in second, posting $91 million in net wins from advertising and creative assignments including those from Hotels.com and a Diageo project. New planning and buying wins included Intercontinental Hotels and LVMH.
Aegis was third in March, with $79 million, primarily from Aegis Media’s landing Credit Agricole. Interpublic Group of Companies ranked fourth with $27 million in net wins, with gains coming from Australian Home Loans, Volkswagen (Hong Kong) and a digital brief from Walmart.
At No. 5 is Publicis Groupe, with $17 million in net new business from Dean Foods, San Miguel U.K., Metro Dubai, Kaiser (digital) and some work for Panasonic. Havas was sixth in March with $54 million in net business losses, but the company’s units landed business from Cityjet and Barilla and public relations assignments Hitachi and Clarins.
For new-business wins in the year to date ending in March, Nomura ranks Publicis No.1, followed by Omnicom, WPP, Aegis, IPG and Havas.
Nomura’s Walker cited the industry’s weak new-business performance in March but added: “That said, the agencies as a group are continuing to do well so far, significantly outperforming Dow Jones Media and Stoxx 600. As a group, the European agencies have done slightly better than the U.S. agencies. We see the agencies as a relatively lowly valued way of gaining exposure within media to an eventual cyclical pickup, while acknowledging cuts to client spending could last for some time.”
Walker retains a “buy” recommendation for Publicis and WPP — which is Nomura’s top pick as it is trading at a 25 percent discount to the sector’s average price/earnings ratio — and a neutral recommendation on Havas and Aegis. The London-based analyst does not follow North American companies like Omnicom, IPG and MDC Partners.
Industry companies begin reporting first-quarter results next week. Omnicom releases earnings on April 27, and IPG and MDC on April 28. Publicis will report first-quarter revenue April 29.