NEWS6 March 2017

WPP cautious on year ahead despite strong 2016

Financials News

UK – WPP, owner of the Kantar research and insight group, has reported a strong performance in 2016, but is cautious about the outlook for 2017, citing "tepid economic growth".

martin sorrell

WPP's revenue was up 17.6% (or 3% on a like-for-like basis, which strips out the effect of exchange rate variations and acquisitions) to £14.4 billion, and profit before tax was up 26.7% to £1.9 billion.

The company expects to see like-for-like revenue growth of around 2% in 2017.

The Kantar group, whose businesses includes TNS, Millward Brown and Lightspeed among others, underperformed WPP as a whole, despite a strong performance in the UK. Revenue for WPP’s ‘data investment management’ activities, including Kantar, was up 9.7% on a reported basis (down 0.9% on a like-for-like basis).

Syndicated research was up more than 1% like-for-like, but custom research was down by a similar amount, having struggled particularly in mature markets, “where discretionary spending remains under review by clients”, WPP said.

The company, led by CEO Sir Martin Sorrell (pictured), noted that "there seems to be a growing recognition of the value of ‘real’ first-party data businesses, rather than those that depend on third-party data".

WPP also recorded an £80 million hit during 2016, resulting from the fall in the value of its stake in US media measurement company ComScore. ComScore has been conducting an investigation into "accounting issues", and last month had to remove its shares from the Nasdaq stock exchange because it was unable to file financial information on time.