FTSE 100: WPP raises net sales outlook as advertising demand remains strong

A woman walks past signage for WPP, the largest global advertising and public relations agency at their offices in London, Britain, July 17, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville
London-listed WPP, owner of the Ogilvy, Grey and GroupM agencies, said the travel sector was rebounding strongly. Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters

WPP (WPP.L) increased its annual net sales outlook after strong client spending in the travel and technology industries boosted pretax profits in the first half of 2022.

The world's largest advertising group made £6.8bn ($8.2bn) in half-year sales and reported a 10.2% increase from the previous year. Pretax profit in the first half of 2022 surged 12% to £562m from £502m a year earlier.

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Client demand for advertising campaigns and growth in the technology and healthcare sectors pushed up sales, WPP said.

Despite the positive outlook, WPP fell back 6.9% to 830.03p after its first half numbers on Friday.

London-listed WPP, owner of the Ogilvy, Grey and GroupM agencies, said the travel sector was also rebounding strongly, with a 23% growth in the first half, although sales still remained below pre-pandemic levels.

The firm won $3.4bn in new business alone this year, with Audi, Mars and Nationwide (NBS.L) all adding to its extensive client list.

It also started working with the parent company of video game Fortnite, Epic Games, to develop digital experiences in the metaverse.

Last year, WPP won the majority of Coca-Cola’s (KO) £4bn account in the biggest marketing deal in the beverage brand’s history.

WPP now expects like-for-like net sales to grow 6%-7% in 2022, up from an already upgraded forecast of 5.5%-6.5%.

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Mark Read, WPP’s chief executive, said: “We have enjoyed a strong first half, with broad-based growth across our creative, media and public relations businesses.

“As major advertisers increasingly look to integrate their marketing investments, we are well positioned to serve the world’s largest companies, demonstrated by our success with Coca-Cola, which we are now onboarding at pace.

“The second quarter saw significant assignment wins from Audi, Audible, Danone (BN.PA) and Nationwide.

“The actions we have taken over the last four years leave WPP much better positioned with a more uncertain economic environment ahead.”

WPP upped its payout by 20% to 15p from 12.5p.

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