WPP reports strong growth

- WPP Group has reported a 20 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £93.8 million ($154.7 million) for the six months to June.

- WPP Group has reported a 20 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £93.8 million ($154.7 million) for the six months to June.

Revenue was up over 8% at £900 million ($1,485 million) while gross profit was up almost 10% at £770 million ($1,270 million).

Operating profit (excluding income from associates) was up over 19% to £103.7 million ($171.1 million) from £86.8 million ($141.8 million) last time.

The star performer this time has been the group's public relations and public affairs operations where revenues showed significant continued growth, rising over 22%. Hill and Knowlton's revenues rose over 18% and the company continued to strongly improve its operating margin. Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide's revenues also rose by almost 22% with significant improvement in its operating margin.

Combined revenue at the advertising and media networks, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide (including Cole & Weber and OgilvyOne), J Walter Thompson, Conquest and the recently launched MindShare rose by 11%. New business billings totalling £349 million ($576million) were generated, which was up 25% on last year.

Reported operating margins rose by 1% to 12.1% from 11.1%, in line with the Group's financial objectives. Total operating and direct costs rose by 7.1%.

The WPP board recommended an increase of 20% in the interim ordinary dividend to 0.84p net per share, which will be paid in the form of an ordinary dividend.

WPP said it was too early to detect any impact from the Asia Pacific's economic difficulties, but any fall was offset by a stronger than expected North American and European performance.





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