By Olivier Sorgho
– Publicis Groupe, the world’s third-largest advertising company, expects organic net revenue growth of 3-5% this year, it said on Thursday after client spending on digital marketing helped it to beat expectations for 2022.
Shares in the group were up about 5% by 1000 GMT, with J.P. Morgan labelling the company’s guidance as “very impressive”, while Credit Suisse said it should also give confidence to peers such as Britain’s WPP.
Despite a challenging 2022 marked by inflation, COVID-19 in China and a slowdown in global advertising spending, Publicis twice raised its guidance last year as client spending on digital marketing boosted sales.
“We haven’t noticed a change in the behaviour of our customers due to inflation,” Chief Executive Arthur Sadoun told reporters on a call after Thursday’s results.
In contrast with recent heavy job cuts by big technology companies, Publicis intends to continue hiring to support its growth, finance chief Michel-Alain Proch told analysts.
Its digital and data-driven businesses Epsilon and Sapient, the former of which was acquired in 2019, achieved organic net revenue growth of 12% and 19% respectively last year.
“Now we’re on the lookout for so-called bolt-on acquisitions,” CEO Sadoun said, with the company having earmarked between 500 million and 600 million euros ($549 million to $659 million) for such deals.
Publicis posted 10.1% organic growth in net revenue to 12.57 billion euros last year, beating the 8.8% consensus forecast from analysts polled by the company.
On clients advertising preferences, Sadoun said there was a transfer away from traditional television towards smart TVs as well as retail media and first-party data.
In November Publicis and food retailer Carrefour announced a planned media joint venture in Europe and Latin America.
“There is an underlying trend towards our clients who say: instead of going to invest on CNN, we’re going to go to Walmart.com because by definition it’s more efficient, it’s more direct, I’m building a direct relationship with my consumer.”
He added that clients’ willingness to continue advertising on Twitter varied case by case.
Publicis hopes to navigate a global shift in advertising trends as Alphabet Inc’s Google looks to phase out the use of third-party cookies.
($1 = 0.9105 euros)