Ad Giant Interpublic Tumbles, Drags Sector Lower After Warning About State Of Ad Industry

Amid the Dow Jones making fresh all time highs on the back of solid earnings by key Dow components, a largely unreported adverse development for the critical - for tech companies - ad sector has gone largely unnoticed this morning, when ad giant Interpublic reported a miss on 3Q adjusted EPS and revenue estimates, with CEO Michael Roth warning that "organic revenue was negatively impacted by broader trends that are being felt throughout much of the industry."

Interpublic now sees FY organic revenue growth of 1%-2%, below Jefferies' estimate of 2.1%.

IPG shares fell as much as 7.0, sliding to the lowest since October 2015, and dragging key peer names lower with Omincom shares down 2%, while WPP slides as much as 2.9% and Publicis down as much as 1.8%. IPG’s commentary on ominous advertising industry trends, excerpted below, comes on the heels of disappointing results from Publicis last week.

Here is the concerning language in the press release about the deteriorating state of the ad industry, which in recent months has gathered significant attention especially when it comes to online advertising, as one after another client has warned they may pull slash their online ad spending budgets on disappointing returns:

"Results in the quarter reflect strong operating margin expansion, although organic revenue was negatively impacted by broader trends that are being felt throughout much of the industry. Our agencies and our talent across the portfolio remain among the best in their respective disciplines, which gives us confidence in the long-term competitiveness of our offerings and our client-centric service model," said Michael I. Roth, Interpublic's Chairman and CEO. "Domestic performance in the quarter also demonstrates that the business is fundamentally sound in our largest geographic market. That said, client caution and the macro environment require that we adjust our outlook for this year, to margin expansion of 40 basis points, with one to two percent organic revenue growth. Combined with the strength of our balance sheet and our proven commitment to capital returns, delivering on these targets will allow us to enhance shareholder value," concluded Michael Roth.

The stock, as noted above, has plunged although the weakness in the traditional ad segment has yet to impact tech shares, where advertising remains the primary source of revenue.

Following the Interpublic news, the S&P advertising Index has likewise slumped to multi-week lows.