WPP has reported a 4.3% rise in like-for-like revenue for the first half of 2008 to £3.34bn, after strong growth in emerging markets.
In results that exceeded analyst expectations, its post-tax profit was £237.3m, up 16.8% year on year, and overall revenues were up 11.8%.
It is increasing its interim dividend for the first half by 20%, and said that the Beijing Olympics and US presidential elections should continue to boost revenue for the second half.
However, the company's share price fell on news of the results, dropping by 6p or 1.3% to 469.5p just after the market opened, after WPP expressed an element of doubt about 2009.
Chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell, who is wary of the economy being talked into a worse state than it really is, has said that prospects for 2009 are "less certain" but was still relatively upbeat about the future outlook.
"In mid-2009 the financial markets may start to rebound and 2010, in the real world, continues to look better, with the prospect of the impact of 'mini-quadrennial' events such as the FIFA World Cup in South Africa, the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the mid-term Congressional elections in the United States, the World Expo in Shanghai and the Asian Games in Guangzhou," the company said in its earnings statement.
While this sounds upbeat for investors, staff at WPP may be less optimistic about the coming year, with the company saying it was focusing attention on staff and other costs. It said that the high level of "flexible staff costs", which it defines as incentives, freelances and consultants, will position the company well to weather any economic slowdown.
For the first half of the year headline profit was up by 9.2% to £453.4m, ahead of expectations. WPP reiterated its long-term plan to achieve an operating margin of 19%, reporting a margin of 13.6% for the period, up by half a percentage point.