The FTSE 100 media giant reported revenues less pass-through costs for the three months of £2.7bn, 0.5% higher on an LFL basis and an improvement on the 1.4% decline in the previous quarter.
Growth was driven by “stronger” performances in the Asia Pacific, Latin America, Africa & the Middle East, Central & Eastern Europe, Western Continental Europe and the UK, although these had been somewhat offset by the group’s markets in North America, where LFL revenues dropped 3.5%.
Despite the improvement for the quarter, WPP reiterated its forecasts of a full-year LFL revenue decline of between 1.5% and 2%, with chief executive Mark Read saying there will be “twists and turns along the way” as the group continues with a strategy to streamline its operations and return to growth.
The latest effort to reduce the size of the business came on Thursday when the company’s shareholders approved the sale its 60% stake in analytics business Kantar to private equity firm Bain Capital for £3.2bn (US$4bn) after the two sides agreed the deal in July.
“In the last 12 months, WPP has taken decisive action and made substantial progress on many fronts: we have fewer, stronger agency brands; new leadership in many of our companies; enhanced central teams supporting our companies; and a renewed commitment to creativity, powered by technology”, Read said.
Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said that while Read’s progress this year in his efforts to reshape the firm would put “credit in the bank with investors”, it would leave the company facing “a higher bar in 2020”.
While the full-year outlook seemed bleak, the better Q3 numbers helped drive the shares up 6.8% to 981p in mid-afternoon trading on Friday.
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