WPP Group, London, reported first-half revenue rose 8.4% to $1.5 billion and operating profit for the half rose 19.5% to $171 million. Net new billings rose to $1.3 billion during the first half, compared to $1.1 billion in 1997. Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide and J. Walter Thompson Co. together showed net new-business billings of $576 million in the first half, up 25%, from $456 million the same time last year. WPP estimated 20% of new assignments so far in 1998 were generated jointly by two or more group companies. North America was the slowest-growing revenue segment, with 9.1% growth, while still making up the largest portion of revenue with 43% of the total. Revenue from the U.K. and continental Europe rose by 19.3% and 19%, respectively, while the combined revenue from Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East rose 10.2%. WPP's Public Relations and Consulting sectors showed the fastest revenue growth, rising 22.4% and 22.1%, respectively, while specialist communications revenue grew by 14.2% and advertising and media trailed with only 8.6% growth.
Copyright August 1998, Crain Communications Inc.