WPP WARNS AD RECOVERY WON'T COME UNTIL 2004

Elections, Summer Olympics to Spur Rebound, Execs Say

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Executives at WPP Group said a true advertising recovery will have to wait until 2004.

Speaking at the company's

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annual shareholders meeting today, management warned that the recovery will be very gradual and led by the U.S. market, and it will take the 2004 presidential elections and Summer Olympics to bring a pronounced lift in ad spending.

The prediction was no surprise, since WPP's chief executive, Martin Sorrell, has been routinely predicting a slow, "bathtub-shaped" recovery since early 2001.

With few signs of recovery in the first five months of 2002, executives admitted WPP will find it hard to meet its target of 15% operating margin for the year, but stressed longer-term profit objectives remain on target.

Shares of WPP closed today down 1.37% to $43.

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