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UK lags as WPP reports strong growth and ups 2005 guidance

LONDON - WPP Group, owner of agencies including Ogilvy & Mather and JWT, has seen like-for-like revenues rise by almost 5% in the third quarter of the year, and raised its guidance for growth this year.

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The company, headed by chairman and CEO Sir Martin Sorrell, reported revenues of £1.35bn for the third quarter, a rise in 26% on the reported figure for the same period last year.

Strong like-for-like growth over the first nine months of the year have led WPP to raise guidance for 2005 revenue growth to between 4% and 5% from previous estimates of 3% to 4%.

WPP said that prospects for improvements in trading performance remain good. However, it warned were worries about the US economy.

"There are still concerns about the prospects for the US economy, focused on the twin deficits and on the indebted consumer and the impact of increasing interest rates and rising commodity prices, including oil, on inflation."

All regions had performed well with the exception of Western Europe. In particular, growth levels for the UK lagged behind the average, at 9.7% for the quarter compared with 22.8% for the WPP as a whole.

Breaking the revenue down into services showed that advertising and media investment management had shown the strongest growth, up 30.8% for the quarter.

Public relations and public affairs revenues were up 16.5%; branding and identity and healthcare and other specialist communications rose by 26.6%; while information, insight and consultancy growth lagged at 1.5%.

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