Publicis Groupe has posted its full-year results for FY20, revealing encouraging signs in Q4 with a US-led recovery in organic growth.
Released on Tuesday, the full-year results show Publicis’ largest market, the US, as the best performer in Q4, returning to positive organic growth at 0.5 per cent, buoyed largely by Epsilon’s quarterly growth of 5.5 per cent.
Overall, Publicis’ organic revenue decline improved to -3.9 per cent in Q4, representing a further improvement to revenue declines from Q3 of -5.6 per cent and Q2 of -13 per cent.
It comes after Publicis Groupe warned in October that Q4 could “fall below” Q3.
The annual results also show that organic revenues were ahead of expectations, falling 6.3 per cent to €9.71bn, while operating income dropped 22 per cent to €983m.
The operating margin declined to 16 per cent, compared to 16.9 per cent in 2019.
In terms of net revenue, Publicis reported a decline of 0.9 per cent, with an operating margin at 16 per cent, and that its free cash flow before change in working capital sits at nearly €1.2 billion, which chairman and chief executive Arthur Sadoun (pictured) described as “the best financial ratios of the industry”.
It’s 2020 proposed dividend sits at €2.0 per share, with a 46.8 per cent payout ratio.
“It is important to note the sustainability of this performance, which was achieved with virtually no benefit from government schemes, including in France where we decided not to take advantage of any state aid,” Sadoun said in a statement.
In addition to its turn of fortune in revenue, Publicis announced that it intends to hand back the salary reductions that 6,000 of its higher-earning staff voluntarily took during the worst of the coronavirus downturn.
Executives at the company took reductions of up to 20 per cent of their salary between April and September; however, the sacrifice reportedly differed by market. Sadoun, additionally, took a temporary reduction of 30 per cent.
According to Campaign, Sadoun and Publicis’ top management board will not be returned their sacrificed salary because their pay was fixed at the company’s annual general meeting last year.
“Thanks to the collective and extraordinary performance of our people in these difficult times, we have been able to post results that are above industry averages, allowing us to repay the salary sacrifice and set aside a higher bonus pool to fairly reward and recognize our teams,” Sadoun said.
“I’d like to thank everyone in the group for their incredible efforts and our clients for their confidence and partnership.
“It is clear now that the crisis did not end with 2020. The world will continue to be marked by the social and the economic effects of the pandemic for some time. So we are going into this new year with a renewed fighting spirit, ready to double down on our efforts to keep our people safe, make our clients win in a platform world and continue to improve our efficiency.
“Our transformation helped us stand strong in the storm of the past year. We are clear-sighted about the challenges that lie ahead, but thanks to our assets, our model, our people, and the trust of our clients, we are confident that we will emerge from this crisis as a stronger company.”
Present in over 100 countries, Publicis Groupe employs around 83,000 professionals.
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