NEWS30 August 2012

WPP insight division sees 1% revenue growth in first half

Financials UK

UK— Revenue for WPP’s consumer insight division increased by 1.2% in the first half of the year, albeit with the second quarter down 0.4% due to increased pricing pressure and currency exchange rate fluctuations.

Asia Pacific, Latin American, African and Middle Eastern markets were up strongly in the second quarter, beating their first quarter performance. However, the USA, UK and western continental Europe softened in the second quarter.

Q2 revenues for the division dipped to £622m from £625m last year, but on a constant currency basis growth was 3.1% and like-for-like revenue was up 0.8%, compared with 1.3% in the first quarter.

Overall first-half figures were more positive, showing a 1.2% increase to £1.19bn, however headline operating profit fell to £84m from £89m.

WPP says the revenue squeeze has been particularly noticeable in its custom research businesses TNS and Millward Brown, together with Added Value, where call centre operations were most affected. Meanwhile, technology investments and a total of 13 acquisitions within the division were cited as reasons for the decline in profits.

For the group as a whole, WPP reported a 5.5% increase in revenue to £4.97bn and a 7% rise in pre-tax profits to £358m in the first half, however the firm has lowered its forecast for full-year revenue growth due to the Q2 slowdown, which also hit the company’s other business divisions in June and July.

“2012 started reasonably well with a strong first quarter and slightly slower second quarter,” said CEO Martin Sorrell. “There has been some slowing of revenues during the second quarter in the US and certain markets in Western Continental Europe affected by the continuing Eurozone crisis.

“On the other hand, the UK, Asia Pacific, Latin America and Africa and the Middle East continue to grow strongly. As a consequence, our operating companies are hiring cautiously and responding to any geographic, functional and client shifts in revenues.”