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Aegis on track for growth in 2004 as market improves

LONDON - Media buying and research group Aegis says it is on track for growth in the coming year, as it expects to benefit from the continued improvement in the advertising market.

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Aegis said its trading is in line with expectations, with turnover, revenue and operating profit in 2003 all ahead of the same period in 2002.

Aegis said its media operations, Carat and Vizeum, were performing well and, despite some pressure on fees in new-business pitches, the division has shown good revenue growth through developing new and existing client accounts.

Aegis said Carat was performing particularly well in North America and it expects the network to benefit from the fillip from the combined impact of the Olympics, the US Presidential election and returning corporate confidence. It is expected that the US market will grow by 4.7% in 2004, compared with 3.4% in 2003.

Carat is also performing well in Asia Pacific and is meeting budgeted targets in the softer European market. Newly launched Vizeum is reported to have performed well in its first six months of trading and now has European offices in 17 countries.

Doug Flynn, chief executive of Aegis, said: "The group is increasingly focused on providing integrated communications solutions for clients and is developing a range of specialised communications services, including outdoor media, sponsorship, data analytics and interactive media services -- these services now account for around a quarter of media revenues. The growing contribution from communication services is enabling the media division to protect gross margins despite the pressures on fees noted above."

Aegis said its research business, which operates under the Synovate banner, has made a good recovery in North America after a difficult two years and is improving both revenues and margins. While it reported its Asian business recovering from the impact of SARS, with increased revenues expected, Europe remains a difficult market for research.

Aegis is due to report its full-year results on March 9.

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