IPSOS veröffentlicht Halbjahresergebnis 2009: Umsätze um 3,2% schwächer als im Vorjahreszeitraum, organisches Wachstum -4,8%
Paris - Ipsos' revenues for the first half of 2009 came to 447.8 million euros, down 3.2% compared with the same period in 2008.
This was subject to a negative currency effect of 0.8%.
Changes in the scope of consolidation had a positive effect of 2.4%.
Revenues excluding the effects of changes in the scope of consolidation and currency effects fell by 4.8%.
Ipsos sustained a fall in revenues for the first time since 1977. Despite a slight slowdown in the decline in revenues on a like-for-like basis in the second quarter to -4.6% compared with -5.1% in the first quarter, cumulative first-half revenues reflect the scale of the crisis and the resulting changes in client behaviour.
Clients have adopted major procedures to optimise the value of the services they buy. In the research market, this has resulted in:
- Consolidation of research programmes among a small number of suppliers and, if applicable, on a broad geographical basis;
- The desire to maximise use of available data, whether from survey-based research or other sources;
- The choice of recognised service providers with specific expertise in the subjects concerned;
- A focus on growth markets, in particular emerging countries for companies that are already present in these markets or which have the means to establish their presence in these markets;
- Looking for the least expensive solutions possible;
- Interest in new solutions with a high level of technological content allowing for the identification of new behaviour patterns among clients/consumers/citizens, with an increasing number benefiting from access to fixed-line or mobile digital networks;
Once again, Ipsos is in a strong position to meet these new demands, to strengthen its relationship with its clients and to be regarded by them as their preferred partner in its chosen areas of specialisation. This is why, in a market declining by 8-10% a year - as indicated by its competitors' results - Ipsos has managed to outperform the market.
Trends in business volumes by geographic area
Growth remained positive in emerging markets, which now account for 27% of the Group's revenues - compared with 25% in 2008 - with average organic growth of 3.5%.
In North America, significant improvement was seen in the second quarter as expected. In the second quarter alone, business volumes fell by 3.2% following a 15.5% fall in the first quarter. Meanwhile, the situation in Western Europe deteriorated in the second quarter.
Trends in business volumes by business line
Only the Opinion and Social Research business saw positive growth thanks to public spending holding up.
Advertising research suffered a decline in business volumes essentially because of a rapid shift towards online data collection systems.
Marketing research was negatively impacted by a number of clients having to review their marketing plans and either cut back their research programmes or delay decision-making.
Profitability. Gross margin, which is calculated by deducting external direct variable costs attributable to the performance of contracts from revenues, declined at a slower rate than revenues (down 1.9%), reaching 62.5% compared with 61.6% in the year-earlier period. This improvement in gross margin relates mainly to the continuing shift towards online research, particularly in Europe, where online data collection grew by 16% over the first half of the year, and in North America, where it grew by a further 4%.
Operating margin before non-recurring items was 8.1%, down 110 basis points compared with the first half of 2008, due to operating expenses remaining stable at 243.4 million euros (up 0.4% compared with the first half of 2008).
Other operating income and expenses came to -7.1 million euros compared with -0.4 million euros in the year-earlier period. This includes non-recurring items of 7.8 million euros (0.9 million euros in the first half of 2008), comprising staff costs relating to departures following the implementation of "Plan B". The aim of this plan is to adjust wage costs to the level of revenues on a country-by-country basis, resulting in the departure of over 400 staff across the world. Ipsos had 8,964 permanent employees at 30 June 2009 compared with 9,278 at 31 December 2008.
Operating profit after non-recurring items came to 28.4 million euros, down 31.5% compared with the first half of 2008.
Amortisation of acquisition-related intangible assets. A portion of the goodwill is being allocated to client relationships during the 12-month period following the acquisition, and amortisation charges are recognised in the income statement over several years, in accordance with IFRS. This charge came to 0.6 million euros in the first half of 2009.
Other non operating income and expenses. The balance of this item was a net expense of 0.1 million euros compared with 0.2 million euros in the first half of 2008, reflecting unusual items not relating to operations and that are designated specifically.
Finance costs. Finance costs came to 4.4 million euros, down 17.5% compared with 5.3 million euros in the first half of 2008, due to lower interest rates. Other financial income and expense reflected 0.3 million euros in net foreign exchange gains, following losses of 1.1 million euros in the first half of 2008.
Tax. The effective tax rate on the IFRS income statement was 29.7%, compared with 29.1% in the first half of 2008. As in the past, the effective tax rate included a deferred tax liability cancelling out the tax saving achieved through the tax-deductibility of goodwill amortisation in certain countries, even though this deferred tax charge would fall due only if the activities concerned were sold.
Adjusted net profit attributable to the Group came to 24.5 million euros, down 8.6% compared with the first half of 2008, with Net profit attributable to the Group of 14.3 million euros.
Financial structure - Shareholders' equity stood at 471 million euros, while net debt came to 232 million euros at 30 June 2009, giving gearing of 49%, well below the upper limit of 100% Ipsos has set itself.
Free cash flow came to 4.2 million euros, stable relative to 4.1 million euros in the first half of 2008. The reduction in gross operating cash flow was offset partly by lower financing costs and also by the 40% reduction in investment in property, plant and equipment and intangible assets to 5.5 million euros, down from 9.2 million euros in the first half of 2008.
Investment relating to the Group's acquisition policy came to 25 million euros, corresponding to payments made at the time of the acquisition of Strategic Puls (Balkans) and Punto de Vista (Chile), as well as the acquisition of minority stakes in a number of emerging markets (Hungary, Puerto Rico).
It would be premature - and probably unrealistic - to hope for the second half of 2009 to be much better than the first half.
- There are differing opinions about when the crisis will come to an end and what shape it will take and how strong recovery will be. The V, U, L and W-shaped recoveries reported widely in the media are creating more uncertainty than confidence.
- During the summer, new orders to be executed by the end of the year were down slightly compared with last year.
- The process of consolidating client orders between a small number of suppliers takes time and is unlikely to result in anything significant until the start of next year.
- More and more clients around the world are opting for economically-efficient technical solutions - such as online data collection - resulting in a deflationary effect that is barely offset by the growing need for information.
- The implementation of « Plan B » will be continued in the second half and its total annual cost is estimated at 10 millions euros.
- The positive effects of "Plan B", coupled to the sustaining of activity at a level that is at least equal to that of the first six months of the year, should enable Ipsos to post for the whole of the year a stable operating margin, excluding non-recurring elements, when compared to the record level achieved in 2008.