WPP profits soar 20%

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WPP Group saw pre-tax profits jump 20% to $414 million for 1999, as revenue climbed 13% to $3.52 billion, according to preliminary results reported today by the London-based agency group. Gross billings increased 16.8% to $15.1 billion; new billings rose 35% to $3.9 billion. Despite the strong showing, WPP shares suffered a 13.7% drop by late afternoon in London, while the overall FTSE 100 index advanced. Non-advertising activities accounted for 53% of WPP's revenue. Internet results also are starting to build: Revenue for Web-based work hit $100 million in 1999. If branding work for dot-com clients is included, Internet revenue reached $500 million. WPP's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York, had net new billings of $899 million and J. Walter Thompson Co. had $837 million.

Copyright February 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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