Thursday 5 August 2021 12:15 pm

WPP raises forecast, following further revenue growth

WPP today reported continuing strong results for the first half of the year, in a sign of optimism for the global marketing industry.

The London-listed ad giant reported revenue growth of 9.8 per cent and new net business worth almost $3bn in the first six months of the year as more customers return to investing in digital media, e-commerce and marketing technology.

Some of the key client wins for WPP included AstraZeneca, Bumble, Hyatt and JP Morgan Chase.

A “delighted” Mark Read, WPP chief executive officer, said: “We have returned to 2019 levels in 2021, a year ahead of our plan, with good momentum into 2022.”

Under boss Read WPP has pursued a strategy of combining its digital and data capabilities with its creative agencies in an effort to update the group for the modern advertising market.

Read told City A.M. that the results “reflect both the strength of the economic recovery, particularly here in the UK, but also the strength of our business model.”

Continuing vaccination programmes in markets like the UK have, WPP said, accelerated the easing of
restrictions and stimulated economic activity.

Based on forecasts by Group M, WPP’s media buying arm, the economic recovery will result in advertising spend in the UK growing by 24 per cent in 2021.

Chris Daly, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Marketing said of the results were: “reflective of the encouraging growth the wider advertising industry has experienced in the last few months.”

“Mark Read,” he added, “will be relieved to see that efforts to capitalise on the brand’s purpose, by strengthening its digital capabilities and honing its data-led creative offering have paid off.” 

WPP posted a 5 per cent rise in revenue less pass-through costs — its key metric — to £4.9bn.

The like-for-like revenue less pass-through costs growth rate, of 19.3 per cent, in WPP’s second quarter is its highest ever.

Share buybacks for the first half of the year amounted to £248m with £350m planned for the second half of the year, a total of £600m planned for 2021.

A 12.5p interim dividend was announced, representing a jump of 25 per cent.

WPP shares were up 1.7 per cent at the open.