Ipsos Half-year results: The havoc wreaked by COVID-19

H1 2020The havoc wreaked by COVID-19

H1 revenue: €786.0 million Organic growth over the half: (13.5%)

Paris, July 22, 2019 – In H1 2020, Ipsos posted revenue of €786 million, down 13% year-on-year; this decrease breaks down into organic growth of -13.5%, scope effects of +0.6% and exchange rate effects of -0.1%.

After a close to flat performance in Q1, Q2 was heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. From April to June 2020, Ipsos posted revenue of €357 million, 25.8% lower than in 2019. At constant scope and exchange rates, this was minus 25.3%; positive scope effects were at +0.6% and negative exchange rate effects at-0.9%.


Millions of euros H1 2020 2020 / 2019 contribution 2020 / 2019 organic growth Reminder Q1 2020 Organic growth
EMEA 359.1 46% (9.5%) 0.5%
Americas 288.6 37% (15.5%) 4.6%
Asia Pacific 138.3 18% (19%) (10.5%)
Half-year revenue 786.0 100% (13.5%) 0%

Sales were down across the three major regions that Ipsos typically tracks. Asia Pacific suffered the highest year-on-year fall. It had already been heavily hit at the start of the year, unlike Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA) and the Americas regions that, despite already seeing difficulties in March, had seen some growth in Q1.As an exception to the trend in recent years, the weight of emerging markets weakened this half. Revenue there was down 23%, compared with minus 10% in the developed world. Ipsos, which for many years had seen growth in developing countries, only accounted for 27% of its revenue there as against 31% in 2019 and one third in previous fiscal years. Large global companies refocused on their home markets and, at the same time, public authorities in developing countries have fewer resources than their counterparts in more prosperous regions. The gap between developed and less-developed countries narrowed over the past two decades, including in terms of per capita spending on market research and opinion polls.  It has once again widened over the past months, potentially complicating the management of the period following the health crisis.


Millions of euros H1 2020 Contribution Organic growth Reminder Q1 2020 Organic growth
Consumers1 335.6 43% (19%) (1.5)%
Clients and employees2 183.2 23% (21%) (5)%
Citizens3 141.6 18% 11.5% 10%
Doctors and patients4 125.6 16% (5.5%) 3.5%
Half-year revenue 786.0 100% (13.5%) 0%

Breakdown of Service Lines by audience segment: breakdown of revenue by audience segment is non-financial data, likely to change over time in line with changes in the structure of Ipsos teams. 1- Brand Health Tracking, Clinics & Mobility Labs, Creative Excellence, Innovation, Ipsos UU, Ipsos MMA, Market Strategy & Understanding, Observer (excl. public sector), Social Intelligence Analytics2- Automotive & Mobility Dev, Audience Measurement, Customer Experience, Channel Performance (including Retail Performance and Mystery Shopping), Media development3- Public Affairs, Corporate Reputation4- Pharma (quantitative and qualitative)

The performance levels by audience are very mixed. Consumer sectors became very cautious once the lockdown happened in Europe followed by the Americas in March.Research targeting their own clients, often conducted for companies of the services sector, also fell sharply.Unsurprisingly, Ipsos continued to see sustained demand and, in some markets, very strong demand in terms of engaging with patients and citizens.The pandemic was initially managed by the public agencies responsible for establishing and running health policies. Ipsos has a range of ongoing contracts, the purposes of which are varied.  Some are designed to create systems to measure the prevalence of the epidemic; other surveys are designed to gain better insights into the opinions, hopes and fears of affected groups or indeed get their views on the measures that have already been put in place or are likely to be in the future. These projects are sometimes done in a specific country. They may also cover larger regions - in Africa or Latin America for example - and be financed by public and private funds through NGOs and foundations.

In some ways, the variability in the performances posted by Ipsos by audience reflects one of its strengths at a time when every company needs to be highly resilient.Although businesses were quieter in Q2, aside from pharmaceutical companies or those working in the health sector, public bodies and institutions increasingly turned to reliable sources able to quickly produce large volumes of information.


Summary income statement

Millions of euros H1 2020 H1 2019 Change H1 2020 / H1 2019 Reminder Dec. 31,2019
Revenue 786.0 903.4 (13.0%) 2,003.3
Gross margin 512.0 583.0 (12.2%) 1,288.5
Gross profit / Revenue 65.1% 64.5 %   64.3%
Operating margin 25.0 49.3 (49.2%) 198.7
Operating profit / Revenue 3.2% 5.5 %   9.9%
Other non-operating / non-recurring income and expenses (7.1) (4.0)   (16.4)
Finance costs (11.6) (13.1)   (26.6)
Income tax 0.2 (6.6)   (36.9)
Net profit, attributable to the owners of the parent 1.3 18.7   104.8
Adjusted net profit*, attributable to the owners of the parent 12.8 29.4 (56.5%) 129.5

*Adjusted net profit is calculated before (i) non-cash items covered by IFRS 2 (share-based payments), (ii) amortization of intangible assets identified on acquisitions (client relationships), (iii) the impact net of tax of other non-operating income and expenses, (iv) the non-cash effect on changes in puts in other financial income and expenses and (v) deferred tax liabilities from goodwill, which in some countries can be amortized

Income statement items

Overall, the Group's operating margin was down around 230 basis points on the same period the previous year as a result of the sudden collapse in business as from mid-March. The sharpness of this fall meant we weren't able to reduce costs to the same extent in H1 because they are partly fixed and were scaled to meet the growth then expected for 2020.It should also be noted that the research market is traditionally highly seasonal with more demand in H2 as contracts are performed. Accordingly, the revenue recognized in H1 has typically accounted for around 45% of full-year revenue in recent years (at constant scope and exchange rates). Conversely, operating expenses are accrued on a rather straight-line basis over the year.

For these reasons, the half-year operating margin is in no way predictive of the full-year operating margin.

The gross margin (which is calculated by deducting external direct variable costs of research projects from revenue) stood at 65.1%, compared with 64.5% in H1 2019. The increase in the percentage gross margin is down to a more favorable mix in data collection mechanisms resulting from the suspension of certain face-to-face survey activities during the lockdown, replaced in some instances by online surveys offering a higher gross margin. Over the half, online surveys accounted for 61% of revenue compared with 55% in 2019.

In terms of operating costs, gross payroll costs were down 3.2%, on the back of the twin effect of a reduction in headcount and various salary reduction measures.There were 17,730 permanent employees at end-June against 18,448 as at end-December 2019, down 3.9%. This reduction occurred in Q2 following the hiring and replacement freeze.The salary reduction measures (voluntary and temporary salary reductions agreed by a number of employees - between 10% and 20% for executives -; reduction in working time; unpaid leave;...) generated savings of around €10 million between mid-March and end-June.

Ipsos also benefited from the partial unemployment schemes put in place in certain countries (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Croatia, France, Germany, Italia, Malaysia, Netherlands, Hong-Kong, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom). Such subsidies were recognized under “Other operating income and expenses” and totaled €17.5 million over the half. Payroll costs net of government subsidies were down 7.3%.

The cost of share-based payments was down slightly to €3.4 million compared with €3.7 million in H1 2019.

Overheads are under control and fell around €15 million in total (i.e. -14.5%), thanks to the tightening of certain discretionary expenditure and above all the lack of travel (€8 million) and savings on office use (€3.5 million).

The operating profit was €25.0 million, representing 3.2% of revenue versus 5.5% in H1 2019.

Under the operating margin, the amortization of acquisition-related intangible assets for the portion of goodwill allocated to client relations over the 12 months from the date of acquisition and which is amortized in the income statement over multiple years in line with IFRS. This line item amounted to €2.7 million, compared with €2.8 million previously.

Other non-operating and non-recurring income and expenses totaled -€7.1 million compared with -4.0 million the previous year. This line is composed of exceptional or non-operating items.In H1 2019, expenses included acquisition costs of €2.0 million as well as €7.9 million in costs associated with the restructuring plans connected with the finalization of the TUP program and the integration of GfK Research.

In H1 2020, the expenses included acquisition costs of €0.6 million associated with the Maritz Mystery Shopping and Askia transactions at end-January and, above all, reorganization and restructuring costs of €11.3 million. This was up on H1 2019 due to the need to bring headcount into line with actual demand in certain countries.

In terms of income, this line item mainly reflected net income of €5.0 million following the decision to capitalize internal development costs as from January 2018 (this net income was €6.4 million in H1 2019).

Financing costs. Net interest costs amounted to €11.6 million compared with €13.1 million, on the back of the reduction in borrowings with strong cash generation.

Income tax. The effective tax rate in the IFRS income statement was 25.4%, compared with 26.0% the previous year. This includes deferred tax liabilities of €0.5 million which offsets the tax savings achieved as a result of the tax deductibility of the amortization of goodwill in some countries, even though this deferred tax expense would only be due in the event of the disposal of the operations in question (and which is thus restated in adjusted net profit).

Net profit (attributable to the owners of the parent), amounted to €1.3 million compared with €18.7 million in H1 2019.

Adjusted net profit (attributable to the owners of the parent), which is the relevant indicator consistently used to measure performance, amounted to €12.8 million, down 56.5% from the €29.4 million in H1 2019.

Financial structure

Cash flow. Gross cash flow from operating activities (before WCR, Taxes and interests) amounted to €58.7 million compared with €86.7 million in H1 2020. This decline reflected the lower operating profit.

In total, Free Cash Flows hit a record of €161 million. It was in line with forecasts in Q1 but was particularly high in Q2 due to the strong sales at end-2019 and early 2020 which drove inflows over the half. This went hand-in-hand with lower demand from mid-March, which resulted in a reduction in trade receivables as at June 30, 2020.

The working capital requirement thus trended positively by €167.3 million in H1 2020. Usually, when a business is growing, trade receivables increase, resulting in an investment in working capital requirement, as happened at June 30, 2019 (negative €14.1 million change in working capital requirement).

Current investments in property, plant and equipment and intangible assets mainly involved IT investments. They totaled €20.4 million in H1 versus €21.2 million over the same period last year.  

In terms of non-current investments, Ipsos invested close to €15.4 million, primarily making two acquisitions in Q1: Maritz Mystery Shopping and Askia. These two companies were consolidated as from February 1, 2020.

Equity stood at €1,055 million at June 30, 2020 compared with the €1,122 million reported at December 31, 2019.

Net borrowings stood at €441.0 million, down on December 31, 2019 (€574.6 million). Net gearing was down to 41.8% from 51.5% at December 31, 2019 and 59.1% at June 30, 2019.

Cash position. Year-end cash hit record levels of €306.9 million at June 30, 2020 compared with €165.4 million at December 31, 2019, giving Ipsos a strong cash position. The Group also has over €400 million in available credit facilities, allowing it to meet its debt repayments in 2020 and 2021.

Lastly, it should be noted that the General Shareholders’ Meeting held on May 28, 2020 approved a dividend of €0.45 per share in respect of the 2019 fiscal year. This was paid out on July 3, 2020 and totaled €19.8 million. This payout was cut in half from the €0.89 per share initially considered in February 2020.


The epidemic has been relatively static for the past weeks. It is thus difficult to gage how long the crisis will last.It seems reasonable to assume and this is clearly the most likely outcome, that business will be affected so long as we have no treatment or vaccine.It is thus hoped that the authorities will not have to impose further total lockdowns like those seen in most countries in recent months. The businesses of Ipsos clients, and hence of Ipsos itself, were heavily hit by the lockdowns. At mid-March, the lockdowns already in place in China, other parts of Asia and Italy became the order of the day elsewhere. There were without doubt differences. For example, in Europe, the rules were stricter in Spain, where the army was deployed, than in Germany. That said, the consequences were identical. Economies came to a standstill. Ipsos saw its order book deflate during March (-40%) and April (-60%). May saw a softening (-28%) although cancellations and the scaling back of existing orders remained higher than anticipated. This thus delayed a more satisfactory upswing in business.

As already noted, Ipsos was adversely affected by a combination of three factors: The business performance of its clients; uncertainties as to what the world will look like going forward – right after the lockdown ends and the time after that – when we (finally!) come out of the health crisis; and, thirdly, the technical and legal obstacles preventing the performance of certain contracts that require repeated close contact between people. Bringing consumers together to get them to collectively experience in a dynamic environment this or that market situation is almost impossible. Going to consumers’ homes to observe their behavior or test this or that product is not an option…

Nevertheless, despite these constraints, some of which still remain, Ipsos has seen business tick up over the past weeks. The volume of cancellations and postponements is falling and new order flows are growing.The aforementioned negative factors are still live, but have less impact or can be overcome. Firstly, Ipsos’s clients – large or medium size companies or institutions – are required, at the risk of becoming irrelevant, to work, evolve, take initiatives, to adapt to new realities. To this end, even if they have limited resources, they need quality up to date information. Next, these same clients are seeing their consumers and clients come out of the total lockdown they had faced, at least in certain regions. Every company, regardless of its sector and footprint, must be able to adapt, move quickly and, where possible, stay relevant. The uncertainties in play in the Spring mitigating against the services offered by Ipsos and its competitors are becoming reasons to acquire market data.

Lastly, Ipsos’s teams have worked really hard since the start of the health crisis: their efforts focused on two key areas: i) developing new scientific and technological approaches to enable ways of working that are compatible with protective measures including the wearing of masks and social distancing; and  ii) ramping up the use of webinars and other publications and continuing constructive dialog with their clients. Many companies in the business services sector took similar steps.We feel that making the most of the resources of a company like Ipsos operating worldwide, managing 70,000 different projects annually and employing 18,000 professionals, has allowed us to add value to those engaging with us and to stand out. Ipsos’ recent ranking, in the GRIT report, as the most innovative market research company worldwide for the second year running reflects this.

All of these various strands made it possible to post encouraging results: After three months of sharp declines, Ipsos’ order book turned slightly positive in June. This was partly due to the winning of new public contracts associated with the COVID-19 epidemic; overall, at end-June, it stabilized at around minus 10%.Beyond that, there continues to be significant uncertainty, meaning that it is impossible to accurately predict Ipsos revenue for the remainder of the year.

Thanks to the work done by its teams, the increased digitalization of its information communication, analysis and production systems, and its market and customer insights, Ipsos expects, despite the uncertainties, to see a better performance in H2 2020 than in the first half, both in terms of sales and revenue and its operating margins.


  • Consolidated income statement
  • Statement of financial position
  • Consolidated cash flow statement

              A summary of the half-yearly results can be found on ipsos.com and a live presentation of our results will be streamed at 8:30 on Thursday, July 23. You can watch it on our  website. Should you have any questions, please join the conference call: to attend dial one of the following numbers:

France: +33 (0) 1 70 99 47 40 US: +1212999 6659 UK: +44 (0) 20 3003 2666

Confirmation code: "Ipsos Half-Yearly Results"



Ipsos is the third largest market research company in the world, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. Our 75 business solutions are based on primary data coming from our surveys, social media monitoring, and qualitative or observational techniques.

“Game Changers” – our tagline – summarizes our ambition to help our 5,000 clients navigate with confidence our world of rapid change.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has been listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 indexes and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters ISOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS:FP www.ipsos.com       

Consolidated income statementHalf-yearly financial statements at June 30, 2020

In thousands of euros 06/30/2020 06/30/2019 12/31/2019
Revenue 785,993 903,359  2,003,255
Direct costs (273,947) (320,380) (714,791)
Gross profit 512,045 582,978 1,288,464
Employee benefit expenses – excluding share-based payments (409,917) (423,587) (862,948)
Employee benefit expenses - share based payments* (3,397) (3,672) (6,924)
General operating expenses (91,324) (106,776) (218,902)
Other operating income and expenses 17,642 336 (995)
Operating profit 25,049 49,279 198,696
Amortization of intangible assets identified on acquisitions * (2,715) (2,830) (5,160)
Other non-operating income and expenses (7,085) (4,003) (16,381)
Share of profit/(loss) of associates (378) (356) (615)
Operating profit 14,872 42,090 176,539
Finance costs (11,582) (13,116) (26,637)
Other financial income and expenses * (3,908) (3,686) (7,328)
Net profit before tax (618) 25,288 142,574
Income tax – excluding deferred tax on goodwill amortization 621 (5,411) (34,539)
Deferred tax on goodwill amortization * (464) (1,164) (2,339)
Income tax 157 (6,575) (36,878)
Net profit (461) 18,714 105,695
Attributable to the owners of the parent 1,276 18,744 104,785
Attributable to non-controlling interests (1,737) (30) 910
Basic earnings per share [attributable to the owners of the parent] (in €) 0.03 0.43 2.39
Diluted earnings per share [attributable to the owners of the parent] (in €) 0.03 0.42 2.32
Adjusted earnings* 11,208 29,714 130,719
Attributable to the owners of the parent 12,776 29,370   129,519
Attributable to non-controlling interests (1,568) 345 1,200
Adjusted basic earnings per share, attributable to the owners of the parent 0.29 0.67 2.95
Adjusted diluted earnings per share, attributable to the owners of the parent 0.28 0.66 2.87

* Adjusted for non-cash items related to IFRS 2 (share-based compensation), amortization of intangible assets identified on acquisitions (client relationships), deferred tax liabilities related to goodwill for which amortization is deductible in some countries, the impact net of tax of other non-operating income and expenses and the non-cash impact of changes in puts in other financial income and expenses.   

Statement of financial positionHalf-yearly financial statements at June 30, 2020

In thousands of euros 06/30/2020 06/30/2019 12/31/2019
Goodwill 1,300,932 1,304,470 1,322,906
Right-of-use assets 141,614 158,623 152,646
Other intangible assets 90,256 86,212 89,076
Property, plant and equipment 35,977 37,302 39,753
Investments in associates 1,788 2,712 1,114
Other non-current financial assets 46,200 45,697 44,766
Deferred tax assets 36,630 26,885 25,300
Non-current assets 1,653,398 1,661,903 1,675,561
Trade receivables 292,116 352,168 518,697
Contract assets 169,936 253,007 203,094
Current tax 15,450 22,951 14,833
Other current assets 98,624 92,899 92,846
Financial derivatives 368 - (1,094)
Cash and cash equivalents 306,885 145,263 165,436
Current assets 883,380 866,287 993,812
TOTAL ASSETS 2,536,778 2,528,190 2,669,372
In thousands of euros 06/30/2020 06/30/2019 12/31/2019
Share capital 11,109 11,109 11,109
Additional paid-in capital 515,873 516,038 516,000
Treasury shares (10,342) (13,340) (12,382)
Translation adjustments (136,277) (109,088) (96,352)
Other reserves 655,715 580,469 580,314
Net profit, attributable to the owners of the parent 1,276 18,744 104,785
Equity, attributable to the owners of the parent 1,037,354 1,003,932 1,103,475
Non-controlling interests  18,278 18,237 19,247
Equity 1,055,631 1,022,169 1,122,722
Borrowings and other non-current financial liabilities 562,388 731,835 561,490
Non-current lease liabilities 122,311 140,140 133,112
Non-current provisions 783 3,820 762
Provisions for retirement benefit obligations 34,102 30,803 33,058
Deferred tax liabilities 70,384 70,417 72,196
Other non-current liabilities 21,233 15,204 14,980
Non-current liabilities 811,201 992,219 815,599
Trade payables 232,973 254,620 300,681
Borrowings and other current financial liabilities 185,851 17,913 181,229
Current lease liabilities 39,977 41,473 41,971
Current tax 9,456 4,078 16,273
Current provisions 7,553 3,606 9,025
Contract liabilities 36,317 27,990 34,594
Other current liabilities 157,819 164,121 147,278
Current liabilities 669,946 513,802 731,051
TOTAL LIABILITIES 2,536,778 2,528,190 2,669,372

Consolidated cash flow statementHalf-yearly financial statements at June 30, 2020

In thousands of euros 06/30/2020 06/30/2019 12/31/2019
NET PROFIT (461) 18,714 105,695
Non-cash items      
Amortization and depreciation of property, plant and equipment and intangible assets 39,930 36,467 75,199
Net profit of equity-accounted companies, net of dividends received 378 356 636
Losses/(gains) on asset disposals 121 (19) 323
Net change in provisions 525 1,833 5,889
Share-based payment expense 3,269 3,424 6,604
Other non-cash income/(expenses) 538 1,666 1,028
Acquisition costs of consolidated companies 615 2,002 2,383
Finance costs 13,892 15,716 31,750
Tax expense (157) 6,575 36,878
Change in working capital requirement 167,318 (14,098) (52,676)
Income tax paid (13,823) (21,896) (35,854)
Acquisitions of property, plant and equipment and intangible assets (20,401) (21,185) (43,232)
Proceeds from disposals of property, plant and equipment and intangible assets 22 58 81
Increase/(decrease) in financial assets (62) 2,960 3,187
Acquisitions of consolidated activities and companies, net of acquired cash (12,462) (3,987) (5,435)
CASH FLOW FROM INVESTING ACTIVITIES (32,902) (22,154) (45,400)
Share capital increases/(reductions) - - -
Net (purchases)/sales of treasury shares 1,781 304 1,324
Increase in long-term borrowings - 27 62
Decrease in long-term borrowings (79) (22) (5,160)
Increase in long-term loans to associates (2,904) (12,391) (12,284)
Increase/(decrease) in bank overdrafts (851) (555) (1,467)
Net repayment of lease liabilities (21,147) (19,359) (40,231)
Net interest paid (6,388) (7,594) (25,367)
Net interest paid on lease liabilities (2,369) (1,958) (4,508)
Buy-out of non-controlling interests  (147) (10,836) (10,935)
Dividends paid to the owners of the parent - - (38,649)
Dividends paid to non-controlling interests of consolidated companies  - - -
CASH FLOW FROM FINANCING ACTIVITIES (32,103) (52,383) (137,215)
Impact of foreign exchange rate movements on cash (5,691) 1,225 2,362


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