Publicis chief Maurice Lévy warned the advertising recession may not be over. Photograph: Francois Mori/AP
Global advertising group Publicis has beaten analysts' forecasts, with organic revenue up 8.3% year on year to €5.4bn (£4.6bn) in 2010.
However, the Publicis chief executive, Maurice Lévy, cautioned on Thursday that it is too early to say the advertising recession is over.
Publicis Groupe, owner of ad agencies including Saatchi & Saatchi, Zenith and Razorfish, said that the "figures speak for themselves" and hailed the numbers as a "remarkable" performance. The group reported net income up 30.5% year on year to €526m, while operating margin grew from 15% to 15.8%. Organic revenue was up 12.5% in the fourth quarter.
The company's share price surged to a 52-week high of €41.38, up almost 5%, earlier today. The results also bumped up rival Sir Martin Sorrell's WPP to a brief 52-week high of 864p, a rise of more than 6%, before falling back to 825.5p.
Lévy said that the economic climate is now "more optimistic" and that he expected Publicis to grow faster than the market, but cautioned that it was too early to say the advertising crisis is definitely over.
"I can't categorically state the crisis is over and behind us," he added. "It is not yet over because there are still some uncertainties. We are seeing some positive developments but it is not completely behind us."
Lévy said despite the economic issues in a range of European markets he expected Publicis to produce an "honourable score" in 2011. Publicis said that all world regions posted growth last year.
North America achieved a "remarkable turnaround" with organic growth of 9.9% year on year, and 14% in the fourth quarter; Europe showed organic growth of 6% last year, with 11.3% in the fourth quarter.
Asia Pacific grew 7% across 2010 and 6.4% in the fourth quarter; Latin America grew 13.7% last year and 22.1% in the fourth quarter. Africa and Middle East grew 4.8% on an organic revenue basis in 2010, with 15.3% in the fourth quarter.
Lévy said that in terms of acquisitions the company had no plans to make any large-scale buys. "Our strategy is highly targeted, highly focused. We want to strengthen our performance in digital and be a leader in the sector over our competitors."
He added that the company has set a target of boosting revenue from digital operations to 35% of total revenues over the next three years and revenue from emerging markets to account for 30%.
Lévy also said that the strong 2010 performance meant that bonuses would be paid normally and the company had started recruiting again last year – 3,200 employees were hired during the year – and that Publicis had tried to avoid "excessively cruel" restructuring during the downturn.
"We managed to reduce costs but not by laying off large numbers of people," he added. "We want staff to feel well treated. We didn't want to take advantage of the crisis to boot people out."