Fresh optimism for ad industry as WPP reveals growth hike

There is further evidence of an advertising recovery following WPP's disclosure that revenues for the first quarter of 2004 grew by 5.7 per cent.

The UK was strong with revenues up 12 per cent year on year. However, the overall recovery in continental Europe lagged behind the rest of the world, where there was double-digit growth.

WPP's North American business was up by almost 11 per cent while its Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Africa and Middle East business was up by more than 28 per cent. Continental Europe grew by less than 8 per cent.

The company reported total group revenues of £960.3 million, compared with £908.5 million for the same period last year.

The importance of the advertising and media sector to WPP's overall performance grew from 45 per cent of the total to 46 per cent. These businesses experienced the second highest levels of growth within the group, up 14 per cent year on year.

The consultancy and insight business grew by 6 per cent while the branding and identity, healthcare and specialist communications sector was the best performer, up more than 19 per cent on the same period in 2003.

Net debt fell by £538 million (£426 million at 2004 exchange rates) to £797 million compared with £1,335 million for the first quarter of 2003.

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