Shares of Omnicom Group (NYSE:OMC) fell modestly on Tuesday after the marketing and communications company reported fourth-quarter 2016 results. Similar to its past several quarterly performances, Omnicom's revenue and earnings crept higher on a year-over-year basis as organic growth continued to help the company weather currency and macroeconomic headwinds.

Let's take a closer look, then, at both how Omnicom closed the year and what to expect on the road ahead.

An Omnicom Group office

Image source: Omnicom Group.

Omnicom Group results: The raw numbers


Q4 2016

Q4 2015

Year-Over-Year Growth


$4,241.8 million

$4,153.3 million


Net income (available for common shares)

$348.7 million

$328.3 million


Net income per common share





What happened with Omnicom Group this quarter?

  • Revenue growth included 3.6% organic growth -- which excludes currencies, acquisitions, and divestments -- a 0.3% increase in revenue from acquisitions, and a 1.8% negative impact from foreign currency exchange.
  • Organic revenue growth comprised a 4.6% increase in advertising, 7.7% growth in public relations, 5.7% growth in specialty communications, and 0.4% growth in CRM (customer relationship management) organic revenue.
  • On a regional basis, organic revenue increased 0.6% year over year in North America, 8.5% in the U.K., 6.2% in the Euro markets and other Europe, 9.5% in Asia-Pacific, and 29% in the Middle East and Africa. Organic revenue declined 6.2% in Latin America.
  • Earnings before interest, taxes, and amortization of intangibles (EBITA) increased 4.5% year over year, to $631.4 million.
  • EBITA margin expanded 40 basis points year over year, to 14.9%.
  • Net debt at the end of 2016 was $1.926 billion (including $4.949 billion in total debt, and cash and short-term investments of $3.023 billion), down from $1.951 billion at the end of 2015.
  • Omnicom generated free cash flow of just under $1.61 billion in 2016.
  • Omnicom maintained its streak of returning more than 100% of net income to shareholders through dividends and repurchases:
Chart showing Omnicom's historical capital returns are above 100% of net income.

Omnicom's net cash returned to shareholders through dividends and repurchases. Image source: Omnicom Group.

What management had to say

During the subsequent conference call, Omnicom CEO John Wren stated:

We were very pleased with our performance for 2016. Strategically, we remain focused on growing and developing our talent, investing in new businesses, and expanding our capabilities in digital, data and analytics, making strategic acquisitions to better service our clients, and continuing to execute on internal organization, operational and diversity initiatives. The results of our strategies are reflected in our solid financial performance for the year. We achieved our target for organic growth, exceeded our margin target, and delivered earnings-per-share growth for the year of 8.4% or $4.78 per share.

Later in the call, Omnicom CFO Phil Angelastro echoed his sentiment from last quarter, stating that "the continued weakening of the British pound after the Brexit vote in late June remained a significant drag" and reduced revenue by an estimated $75 million during the fourth quarter. Angelastro also noted that Omnicom endured an increase in volatility of foreign currency markets following the U.S. presidential election in November.

Looking forward

Recall that Omnicom doesn't typically provide specific financial guidance. But Angelastro did suggest that, assuming currencies stay constant -- an admittedly "highly speculative" assumption -- foreign exchange would have a negative impact of roughly 1.25% in both the first quarter and full year of 2017. In the meantime, the company will "continue to reevaluate [its] portfolio of businesses and focus on opportunities for growth."

All things considered, there were no big surprises in Omnicom's report today. And as long as the company continues to weather today's tough business environment, while focusing on driving growth in the areas within its control and rewarding shareholders with ambitious capital returns, I think investors should be more than happy with where it stands.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.