First, a bit of background. Agency holding company performance has continued in strong recovery mode, despite the rest of the world economy going to blazes. Organic growth, which is seen as the purest underlying growth indicator because it strips out acquisitions, has been particularly vigorous at Aegis, which has just reported a Q3 surge of over 11%. But Interpublic, Publicis Groupe and Omnicom have all reported sparkling figures, with WPP trailing among the big boys on a still respectable 4.9%.
Havas delivered its best quarterly sales in 3 years, beating analysts expectations, with a sterling like-for-like (ie organic) growth rate of 7.3%, thanks to strong performance in North America, Asia and Latin America. Not unnaturally, the Havas share price surged on publication of these figures.
I have no doubt that Havas did indeed perform very well. The trouble is, the regional figures broken out in Havas’ own analysis, when added up and averaged, don’t hit 7.3%. They reach nearly 6.4%.
Let’s get technical for a moment. The method used, so far as I know, by all parent companies for arriving at a global organic growth figure is to multiply the share of each region by that region’s growth rate and then add up the resulting figures to give a global total.
In Havas’ case the declared figures are as follows. Europe, 51.6% (ie 0.516 of the whole), growing at 1.8%, gives us a figure of 0.93%; North America, 34.5% at 8.2%, gives us 2.83%; and Rest of World, 13.9% at 18.7%, gives us 2.6%. Now add up 0.93%, 2.83% and 2.6%. You get 6.36%, which rounds up to 6.4%.
Not 7.3%. Which is quite a difference when it comes to investors assessing the future performance of a company and making their bets accordingly.
My question is: where has the rest of Havas’ growth come from? Answers in my mailbox please.