Publicis Groupe: First Half 2020 Results

Strong fundamentals to weather the crisis

H1 reported net revenue at +9.7%, EBITDA +4.3%

H1 organic growth at -8.0%, with Q2 at -13.0% impacted by lockdowns

Solid tailwind in the US, leading to a limited organic decline of -3.3% in H1

Resilient financials: Operating margin of 13.0%, headline EPS of €1.75, free cash flow of €495 million

Continued new business momentum

Arthur Sadoun, Chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe:

“The results we are publishing today demonstrate that Publicis has strong fundamentals to weather the crisis.

With our transformation almost completed, tailwind in the US and continued new business momentum, we were off to a good 2020.

As anticipated, we have been hit in Q2 by the first economic consequences of the coronavirus crisis. But thanks to our unique offer combining seamlessly creative, media, data and technology, to our unmatched backbone of shared services and our strong balance sheet, we have been able to reduce its impact.

Our reported net revenue was up 9.7% in H1 with the contribution of Epsilon.

Our organic growth in H1 came at -8.0% with Q2 at -13.0%, significantly better than the 23% decline in Global advertising expenditures predicted by Zenith and the 30% mentioned by WFA for Q2.

US organic growth was only down by -3.3% in H1, with Q2 at -6.8%, when ad spend is expected to decline by 18%. Our creative and media activities were still positive at the end of May. Europe posted an organic growth of -23.5% in Q2, as the lockdowns impacted most of the second quarter. In Asia, the performance was at -5.7% in Q2, with China clearly improving from Q1 but remaining negative and volatile.

Thanks to our ability to adapt fast, our country-model and our strong culture in managing costs, the Groupe demonstrated financial resilience in the first half, with an operating margin rate at 13.0%, despite the sudden drop in net revenue since March.

At the same time, we continued to record significant wins in new business across the world, such as Sephora in North America, McDonald’s in China, or Française des Jeux in France, demonstrating our ability to continue to win large pitches with our unique model.

There is no doubt that we will all have to live with the virus and its economic and social consequences for a while, but Publicis is well armed to weather this crisis.

First, we have the products and services that our clients need. Over the last few weeks, we have seen an increased demand for all the capabilities that drove our strategy in the last few years: first-party data, breakthrough creativity, digital-first media and technology. The crisis has clearly accelerated the relevance of our go-to-market. We are uniquely positioned to help our clients take back control over their customer relationship, deliver personalized experiences at scale and reduce their cost while increasing their sales.

Second, in a world where our structure needs to be flatter, agile and remote, we are now truly operating as a platform. Our shared service organization has proven its efficiency and we have finalized the implementation of our country model. This enabled us to react faster and immediately answer all our client needs in a seamless way. With the global roll-out of Marcel, 60,000 of our talents around the world now have a unique way to share their expertise, learn, collaborate, and contribute to client assignments.

Last but not least, we have a very solid financial backbone and a strong liquidity position that will get us through these uncertain times.

As we head into the second half, we are focusing on limiting the impact of the downturn, accelerating our new offering for our clients, while continuing to adapt our cost structure.

I would like to thank all of our clients for their trust as well as the Publicis’ teams around the world. They are our most precious asset and the ones who will drive our clients’ and our own future success. They have demonstrated outstanding commitment, solidarity, dedication and resilience despite the challenges they have endured, professionally and personally, during the lockdown. »


Publicis Groupe [Euronext Paris FR0000130577, CAC 40] is a global leader in communication. The Groupe is positioned at every step of the value chain, from consulting to execution, combining marketing transformation and digital business transformation. Publicis Groupe is a privileged partner in its clients’ transformation to enhance personalization at scale. The Groupe relies on ten expertise concentrated within four main activities: Communication, Media, Data and Technology. Through a unified and fluid organization, its clients have a facilitated access to all its expertise in every market. Present in over 100 countries, Publicis Groupe employs around 103,000 professionals.