WPP returns to growth in March quarter

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 28 April 2021

WPP, the world's largest advertising group, reported a return to like-for-like growth in all business segments and most major markets as the advertising world emerged from the pandemic.

The March quarter results showed revenue up 1.8% and like-for-like growth of 6.3% to $US2.9 billion.

The top five markets for like-for-like revenue less pass-through costs: US +0.7%; UK +3.9%; Germany +2.5%; Greater China +18.4%; India -0.5%. 

The company joins Publicis and Omnicom in reporting better than expected March quarter results.

WPP CEO Mark Read says the company's strengths in ecommerce, digital media and technology, combined with ongoing investment in creative talent, are resonating with clients as their markets recover. 

“We have already secured a number of important assignments in 2021, including Absolut (global creative), JP Morgan Chase (global media), Salesforce (technology operations) and Sam’s Club (US creative). We were also delighted to renew our valued partnership with the US Navy," he says.

“Last week we made an industry-leading commitment to target net zero carbon emissions across our entire supply chain by 2030, putting our $US60 billion of media billings behind this initiative. We will work with our clients, media owners and the industry on this collaborative effort.

“The roll-out of vaccines is improving visibility in many markets, although there is inevitably uncertainty over the pace of recovery.

"We are making good progress on our transformation program, which will deliver significant efficiencies to reinvest in growth, and are confident of delivering our growth and profitability guidance for 2021.”

WPP: "Like-for-like revenue less pass-through costs in the first quarter has been strong and we continue to exercise tight cost control. While these are encouraging trends, there remains continued uncertainty across a number of our markets."

Guidance for 2021 is unchanged: 

  • Organic growth (defined as like-for-like revenue less pass-through costs growth) of mid-single-digits %
  • Headline operating margin in the range of 13.5-14.0%
  • Capex £450-500 million, and a net working capital outflow of £200-300 million

 wpp regional mar q 2021


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