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Is Omnicom a Buy After Last Week's Pullback?

By Steve Symington - Mar 1, 2020 at 8:00AM

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The marketing and corporate communications leader ended 2019 on a high note but fell hard along with the broader market last week.

Omnicom Group (OMC -2.11%) released strong fourth-quarter 2019 results two weeks ago, comfortably exceeding Wall Street's estimates at the time. But while shares of the marketing and corporate communications specialist initially jumped as much as 5% on the heels of that report, the stock has all but given up its post-earnings pop over the past week, falling more than 11% as the broader markets pulled back on concerns over the impact of the ongoing global coronavirus outbreak.

Even so, Omnicom has shown a knack for effectively combating the effects of macreconomic uncertainty in recent quarters. So this raises the question: Could Omnicom represent an opportunity for patient investors to pick up shares of a future top stock at a hefty discount?

Let's take a closer look at its latest quarter to find out, starting with its headline numbers:

Metric

Q4 2019

Q4 2018

Growth

Revenue

$4.141 billion

$4.087 billion

1.3%

Net income (attributable to Omnicom)

$415.0 million

$399.2 million

4%

Net income per common share (diluted)

$1.89

$1.77

6.8%

DATA SOURCE: OMNICOM GROUP. 

An electronic stock board shows prices rising and falling.

Image source: Getty Images.

To be fair, Omnicom didn't provide specific forward financial guidance along with with its third-quarter results in October. But most analysts were modeling lower earnings of $1.85 per share on revenue closer to $4.10 billion.

For perspective, however, Omnicom's top line included 3.5% organic growth, which more than offset the combination of a 0.9% headwind from foreign currency exchange and a 1.2% decline in acquisition revenue (net of dispositions). During last quarter's conference call -- and this explains the revenue beat -- Omnicom management predicted that foreign currencies and the impact of acquisitions (net of dispositions) would each represent roughly 1.5% headwinds to top-line growth.

Breaking it down further, organic growth from Omnicom's advertising discipline rose 5.1%, CRM consumer experience sales jumped 3.3%, CRM execution and support fell 6%, public relations dropped 2.5%, and healthcare grew 12.9%.

On a geographic basis, organic growth gained 2.8% in the U.S., 3.3% in the UK, 4.7% in the Euro Markets and Other Europe region, 4.5% in the Asia-Pacific geography, and 19.5% in the Middle East and Africa. Organic revenue simultaneously declined 2.3% in the "other North America" areas and 1.3% in Latin America.

Digging deeper, looking forward

"In the face of a dynamic yet challenging environment, I'm very pleased that our strategies, talent, and execution have allowed us to consistently deliver solid financial results," elaborated Omnicom Chairman and CEO John Wren during the subsequent call. "We remain steadfast in believing in the value of our individual brands, and will continue to support their unique cultures and go-to-market strategies."

Omnicom CFO Philip Angelastro noted the favorable disparity between actual foreign currency impacts and the company's predictions for Q4. He further admitted that "any assumption as to how foreign currency rates will move over the next few months, let alone the balance of 2020, at this point is speculative" -- a fair point, considering recent heightened macroeconomic uncertainty in the face of the coronavirus scare.

Nonetheless, Angelastro suggested that, based on Omnicom's latest estimates, foreign currency exchange should have a roughly 50-basis-point negative impact to reported revenue in the first quarter of 2020, before remaining "slightly negative" for the rest of the year. The company also anticipates the impact of recent acquisitions, net of dispositions, should decrease first-quarter revenue by around 1.2% -- lower than previous quarters' targets as the company cycled through the bulk of last year's dispositions several months ago -- before effectively flattening out starting in the second quarter.

"[W]e are pleased with our performance in Q4 and the full year 2019," Wren concluded, "and I'm confident that we are very well positioned as we enter 2020."

The bottom line

The wild card in this case remains just how much coronavirus could hurt demand for Omnicom's various agencies, particularly as clients around the world buckle down and pare back their marketing spend. That's something investors should watch closely, then, in the coming months.

But even then, the impact of these events should be short-term in nature, and Omnicom should remain well-positioned to capitalize when such demand resumes. At the very least, I think the stock could be worthy of adding to your watch list, and potentially opening a small position with an eye for building a larger stake on any extended drops.

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