Many companies put their advertising and marketing communications business up for competitive review from time to time, and clients may choose to terminate their contracts on a relatively short time frame. We have won and lost client accounts in the past as a result of such periodic competitions. In the aggregate, our top ten clients based on revenue accounted for approximately 20% of revenue in 2014. A substantial decline in a large client’s advertising and marketing spending, or the loss of a significant part of its business, could have a material adverse effect upon our business and results of operations.
Our ability to attract new clients and to retain existing clients may also, in some cases, be limited by clients’ policies or perceptions about conflicts of interest. These policies can, in some cases, prevent one agency, or even different agencies under our ownership, from performing similar services for competing products or companies.
Our results of operations are highly susceptible to unfavorable economic conditions.
Economic conditions continue to vary across geographic regions, and areas of uncertainty about the prospects for continued improvements in the global economy or economic conditions in certain regions, and a degree of caution on the part of some marketers, continue to have an effect on the demand for advertising and marketing communication services. Our industry can be affected more severely than other sectors by an economic downturn and can recover more slowly than the economy in general. In the past, some clients have responded to weak economic and financial conditions by reducing their marketing budgets, which include discretionary components that are easier to reduce in the short term than other operating expenses. This pattern may recur in the future. Furthermore, unexpected revenue shortfalls can result in misalignments of costs and revenues, resulting in a negative impact to our operating margins. If our business is significantly adversely affected by unfavorable economic conditions, the negative impact on our revenue could pose a challenge to our operating income and cash generation from operations.
We may lose or fail to attract and retain key employees and management personnel.
Our employees, including creative, digital, research, media and account specialists, and their skills and relationships with clients, are among our most valuable assets. An important aspect of our competitiveness is our ability to identify and develop the appropriate talent and to attract and retain key employees and management personnel. Our ability to do so is influenced by a variety of factors, including the compensation we award and other factors which may be beyond our control. In addition, the advertising and marketing services industry is characterized by a high degree of employee mobility. If we were to fail to attract key personnel or lose them to competitors or clients, our business and results of operations could be adversely affected.
We may not be able to meet our performance targets and milestones.
From time to time, we communicate to the public certain targets and milestones for our financial and operating performance that are intended to provide metrics against which to evaluate our performance. They should not be understood as predictions or guidance about our expected performance. Our ability to meet any target or milestone is subject to inherent risks and uncertainties, and we caution investors against placing undue reliance on them. See Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Disclosure.
Our financial condition could be adversely affected if our available liquidity is insufficient.
We maintain a $1 billion committed credit facility to increase our financial flexibility (the “Credit Agreement”). If credit under the Credit Agreement were unavailable or insufficient, our liquidity could be adversely affected. The Credit Agreement contains financial covenants, and events like a material economic downturn could adversely affect our ability to comply with them. For example, compliance with the financial covenants would be more difficult to achieve if we were to experience substantially lower revenues, a substantial increase in client defaults or sizable asset impairment charges. If we were unable to comply with any of the financial covenants contained in the Credit Agreement, we could be required to seek an amendment or waiver from our lenders, and our costs under the Credit Agreement could increase. If we were unable to obtain a necessary amendment or waiver, the Credit Agreement could be terminated, and any outstanding amounts could be subject to acceleration. Furthermore, the Credit Agreement includes commitments from a syndicate of financial institutions, and if any of them were unable to perform and no other bank assumed that institution’s commitment, the availability of credit under that agreement would be correspondingly reduced.
In most of our businesses, our agencies enter into commitments to pay production and media costs on behalf of clients. The amounts involved substantially exceed our revenues and primarily affect the level of accounts receivable, expenditures billable to clients, accounts payable and accrued liabilities. To the extent possible, we pay production and media charges only after we have received funds from our clients, although, if clients are unable to pay for commitments that we have entered into on their behalf, there could be an adverse effect on our working capital, which would negatively impact our operating cash flow.
Furthermore, if our business or financial needs lead us to seek new or additional sources of liquidity, there can be no guarantee that we would be able to access any new sources of liquidity on commercially reasonable terms or at all. For further discussion of our liquidity profile and outlook, see “Liquidity and Capital Resources” in Part II, Item 7, Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.