June 7, 2017 / 11:55 AM / 7 months ago

WPP reports slight rise in four-month comparable sales

(Reuters) - WPP (WPP.L), the world’s largest advertising group, reported a slight increase in like-for-like net sales growth in the first four months of 2017, saying there was growth in all regions and businesses except North America and data investment management.

The British company, led by founder and CEO Martin Sorrell, reported a 0.7 percent rise in like-for-like net sales growth, compared to a rise of 0.8 percent in the first quarter.

The company, which had said it would cut Sorrell’s pay to no more than 19 million pounds ($24.6 million), from 48 million pounds last year, saw about 92 percent of votes cast for the resolution to approve the compensation policy at the general meeting on Wednesday.

Last year, excluding abstentions, 33.5 percent of investors in WPP had refused to back a 70 million-pound pay package for Sorrell at a fractious annual meeting, rebelling against one of the biggest payouts in British history.

North America continued to be the weakest market for the company with like-for-like revenue down 2.7 percent, and net sales down 1.6 percent.

The weakness in the pound helped the company’s top line as it earns about 38 percent of its net sales revenue in North America.

    WPP had rattled investors in March when it cut its 2017 sales forecast, citing an ultra competitive environment in which rivals were having to fight for every dollar of advertising spending.

    Reported net sales rose 16.7 percent to 4.17 billion pounds ($5.38 billion), WPP said in a statement ahead of its annual general meeting on Wednesday.

    Shares in the company were down 2.3 percent at 1,682 pence at 1523 GMT, making it one of London’s biggest blue-chip fallers.

    Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain and Sanjeeban Sarkar in Bengaluru. Editing by Jane Merriman and Elaine Hardcastle

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