London-based PR holding company Huntsworth posted a 3.4 percent rise in PR revenue for the first half of 2008 excluding currency changes as a downturn in financial sector business was partially offset by gains in public affairs and consumer PR.
CEO Peter Chadlington said “current economic turbulence” has had some affect on its PR operations, which represent 75 percent of the company’s revenues. A significant slip in IPOs and M&A activity resulted in a 40 percent drop in that sector of PR for the holding company, and Hunstworth said litigation support and crisis assignments partially offset that steep decline.
Huntsworth owns the Citigate-branded firms, The Red Consultancy and Dorland Global, among its PR units.
Total revenue for the first half was $148.2M (80.5M pounds), a 2.5 percent increase over the same period in ’07.
Huntsworth chalked up new business from clients like Heinz, Cadbury, Epson, Lafarge, Legg Mason and Globaltrans, the Russian freight transport company which went public, in the first half. Net new business for the six-month period topped $56M with about half of that coming from existing clients.
Chadlington said that cuts in advertising budgets have resulted in more consumer PR spending, which grew by 12 percent. Corporate work was up five percent on the strength of “green,” social responsibility and other campaigns, and public affairs rose 16 percent on “political change.”
Hunstworth said it is on target to be debt and earn-out free by 2012, assuming it makes no acquisitions, but the company left the door open should the economic downturn provide for “cost-effective opportunities.”
Huntsworth’s burgeoning health operations (it acquired Dorland last year) posted a slight .2 percent rise in revenue to 20.6M pounds (about $37.9M).