Ad holding company WPP Group reported a 16 percent rise in sales in the third quarter, boosted by the stronger dollar and euro against the pound. Revenues came in at £1.72 billion ($2.8 billion), compared to £1.48 billion ($2.42 billion) a year ago. Adjusting for inflation, revenue was six percent higher; on a like-for-like basis–stripping out acquisitions and currency fluctuations–growth was three percent.
As rivals Publicis, Interpublic and Aegis reported earlier this week, WPP expects that the “disintegration in the financial markets” will continue to have a “significant negative effect” on consumer and corporate confidence, with 2009 shaping up to be “a very tough year.” CEO Martin Sorrell told Bloomberg that the “real recovery” will come in 2010, when events such as football’s World Cup and the Winter Olympics games should boost sales.
In Q3, emerging markets and central and eastern Europe were the group’s strongest growth regions, with North America, the weakest, hit particularly hard by the credit crunch. It had flat revenues in Q3, compared to first-half growth of six percent. UK sales also softened in the third quarter, growing 2.9 percent in constant currency terms. Asia Pacific, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East saw revenues climb 16.5 percent. Continental Europe grew at 7.2 percent, with western continental Europe, to WPP’s surprise, accelerating in the third quarter. Central and eastern Europe grew 16.3 percent.