June 12, 2013 / 12:10 PM / 6 years ago

Advertising group WPP sees growth pick-up in April

LONDON, June 12 (Reuters) - The world’s largest advertising group, WPP, said its organic revenue growth picked up in April, led by branding activities and digital communications.

The British company said in a trading update to coincide with its annual shareholder meeting that revenue rose 2.3 percent on a like-for-like basis in the first four months of the year, an improvement on the 2.1 percent growth seen in the first quarter.

The numbers are adjusted for the impact of acquisitions and currency fluctuations.

Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East and Central and Eastern Europe were the strongest performing regions, the company said on Wednesday.

The United States and Western Europe continued the trend of slower growth established in 2012, it said, although Britain was an exception, with strong growth.

Operating profit was above budget and well ahead of last year, it said.

The first indications for May pointed to a similar pattern as the first four months, said WPP. Looking ahead, it said consumers and companies were likely to remain cautious.

“But corporates should continue to invest in capacity and brands in fast growth markets, and in slow growth markets invest in brands to maintain market share, as they squeeze capacity,” the company said.

Shares in the group rose 1.7 percent, or 19 pence, following the statement, and were trading 1.6 percent higher at 1,120 pence by 1143 GMT.

Analysts at Citi said the numbers implied that organic revenue grew 2.9 percent in April, but fell back to trend in May, with 2.3 percent growth.

They said the trading update in general, and in particular the outlook for growth and margins, was supportive of the company’s share price, but ultimately did not substantially change the investment case.

“The improvement in April is welcome, but the implication is that some of this has evaporated in May,” they said.

The company’s reported revenue for the first four months rose 7 percent to 3.45 billion pounds ($5.38 billion).

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