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Wed, Aug 25, 2010 - Page 10 News List

US and traditional media boost WPP organic sales

REUTERS , LONDON

WPP, the world’s largest ad firm by sales, lifted its outlook for the year after posting a 3.1 percent rise in key organic revenue for the first seven months on strong growth in the US and traditional media.

The performance puts it on target to beat its earlier forecast of 2 percent growth for the full year, although it cautioned that comparatives would get tougher in the second half.

WPP posted first-half like-for-like revenue up 2.5 percent, toward the lower end of forecasts from a poll with a range of 2.5 percent to 3 percent, but said it had enjoyed a strong month last month and was seeing trends improve.

It raised its dividend by 15 percent.

“I think these results will be well received,” Numis analyst Paul Richards told reporters. “The like-for-like sales figure is key and at 3.1 percent over seven months that shows that trends are improving.”

The firm, whose clients include Vodafone and Unilever, said organic sales in the first half were boosted by “remarkably strong growth” in the US, an improved performance in Britain and strong growth in southeast Asia.

Last month then showed the strongest growth of all, up almost 7 percent.

“Our second quarter revised annual forecasts indicate full-year like-for-like revenues even ahead of seven months year-to-date growth of 3.1 percent,” the group said.

WPP, whose ad agencies include JWT and Ogilvy & Mather, said in June the US and southeast Asia had driven good growth in the first quarter and expectations rose further after improved first-half performances from rivals.

Omnicom Group reported stronger than expected quarterly results last month and said major clients were back on the spending offensive, while Publicis also posted strong results and raised its outlook.

Major advertisers Procter & Gamble and Unilever have increased their marketing budgets in recent weeks and broadcasters and media conglomerates such as News Corp and Time Warner have also reported seeing a recovery in ad sales.

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