WPP Posts Highest Quarterly Growth in a Decade

No. 1 Holding Co. Also Announces Investment in Facebook Platform Buddy Media

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- WPP Group today reported its highest quarterly growth since 2000, with an organic revenue increase of 7.5% to $3.6 billion that was helped along by a strong performance from the U.S. ad market.

"The United States ... is behaving more like an emerging market than a mature one," the world's largest holding company said in a statement today. U.S. revenue at the London-based advertising company -- which owns JWT, Ogilvy & Mather, Mindshare, Grey and Kantar -- was up 9.9% in the quarter. However, WPP warned that the strong performance "obviously cannot go on forever," adding that any "slackening" in the U.S. would be counterbalanced by growth from other parts of the world.

For the first nine months of 2010, revenue was up 6.3% to $10.7 billion. Emerging regions already account for nearly 30% of WPP revenue, which has provoked the group to consider an "increase in our current targets of one-third of revenues coming from these geographic and services sectors."

Revenue from the emerging regions -- Asia Pacific, Latin America, Africa and Middle East, and Central and Eastern Europe -- grew 7.6% in the third quarter. Third quarter growth in Western Europe was the slowest at 4.7%, while the U.K. improved significantly in the quarter, with revenues up 7.4% compared with 5.1% in the second quarter.

WPP said it had net new-business billings of $1.4 billion during the third quarter. Net new-business billings won in the first nine months of 2010 were $4.8 billion, up more than 50% on last year's performance in that period. Despite the lift in figures, WPP still lags rival Publicis Groupe's growth rate, which hit 9.2% in the third quarter.

The company also announced a $5 million cash investment in New York-based Buddy Media, a platform made to help marketers better manage their presence on Facebook. As part of the deal, WPP will have preferred or customized access to Buddy Media's products.

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