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WPP revenues rise despite 'pressure' on UK market

LONDON - Revenues at WPP Group rose by 4.6% in the third quarter of the year, despite sluggish growth in its European operations.

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In a trading update, the UK based advertising giant, which is headed by chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell, said that reported revenues rose by 4.6% in the third quarter to £1.411bn and on a like-for-like basis, excluding the impact of acquisitions and currency fluctuations, revenue was up more than 4%.

According to the statement, revenues were up 12% during the first nine months of 2006, with its operating margin in line with a target of 14.5%, compared with 14% in 2005.

Like-for-like growth was below figures for the first six months of the year blaming "pressure in the United Kingdom and a slower rate of growth in Eastern Europe".

Over the first nine months of the year growth was slowest in the UK, up around 5%, compared with 10% growth in North America and a rise of over 20% in the Asia Pacific, Latin America and Africa and the Middle East regions.

In the trading statement, WPP said: "The group continues to focus on its strategic objectives of improving operating profits by 10% to 15% per annum; improving operating margins by half to one margin point per annum; improving staff cost to revenue ratios by 0.6 margin points per annum; growing revenue faster than industry averages; developing creative leadership and stimulating cooperation among group companies."

Broken down by sector over the first nine months of the year branding and identity, healthcare and specialist communications showed the strongest growth with revenues up around 16%, public relations and public affairs were up 12%, insight and consultancy up 10%, and advertising and media investment management increased by over 8%.

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