WPP had what CEO Mark Read described as a “very strong” third quarter, with the agency holding company now seeing results that exceed 2019's levels across each of its business lines.
The London-based owner of agencies including Mindshare, Ogilvy and VMLY&R reported third-quarter like-for-like revenue less pass-through costs of 2.64 billion pounds ($3.65 billion), up 15.7% from a year earlier, and up 6.9% over the third quarter of 2019.
WPP now expects its like-for-like revenue to rise 11.5% to 12% this year, up from an earlier forecast of 9% to 10% growth. This would indicate fourth-quarter revenue growth of around 10%, John Rogers, WPP's chief financial officer, said during the company's earnings call.
“Clients across all sectors and geographies are making significant investments in marketing, particularly in digital media and ecommerce services," Read said in a statement. "We are now above 2019 levels in all of our business lines, and with the actions we have taken over the last three years, we are even better positioned for growth.”
WPP focuses on like-for-like revenue, which includes acquisitions from the date of completion, compared with results from the prior year adjusted to include the results of acquisitions and disposals for the commensurate period.
Market and agency performance
Revenue rose in WPP’s top five markets from a year earlier. The U.S. saw 12.4% growth, the U.K. jumped by 16.9%; Germany went up 34.5%; Greater China went up by 18.0%, and Australia grew by 2.4%.
However, the numbers were slightly different when comparing the markets to 2019. The U.S. grew 6.2%, the U.K. saw 9.3% growth and Germany had 32.1% growth. However, Greater China was down 1.7%; and Australia was down 11.2%.
The network’s performance was led by strong results from GroupM, which saw 19% revenue growth compared to last year and 14.6% compared to 2019. VMLY&R and Hogarth also had double-digit growth when compared to 2019. WPP’s PR and specialist divisions, which include healthcare, brand consulting, and agencies like CMI, also performed well, with like-for-like revenue growth from the latter cluster of agencies up 41.5% compared to 2020, and up 21.8% compared to 2019.