WPP has reported revenues of £2.078 billion for the first quarter of 2010, down just under 2% from last year. On a like-for-like basis, excluding the impact of acquisitions and currency fluctuations, revenues were flat with last year. The Group states that revenues have stabilised following declines of 5.8% in the same quarter last year and 7.2% in the last quarter of last year and over 8% last year. The first quarter saw sequential improvements each month, with March up 1%, the first monthly revenue growth for 14 months since December 2008. The Group’s two biggest markets in Asia, Mainland China and India showed combined growth of over 5%.
The company says 2010 started in a very different way to how 2009 ended. Terming 2009 as certainly “less-worse”, it stated that the start to 2010 indicates a change in client attitudes. WPP says that in 2009 the economic pressure was most acute in the United States, with the United Kingdom less affected than Western Continental Europe and Asia Pacific, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East and Central and Eastern Europe least affected.
WPP reports that 2010, so far, has seen the United States has recovering first with constant currency growth of almost 4%, followed by the United Kingdom which has also been positive. Western Continental Europe probably remains the most challenged region with revenues down over 1%. Asia Pacific, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East and Central and Eastern Europe was down over 1%.
In Asia Pacific, Japan and Australia and New Zealand are still the most affected with constant currency revenues down almost 7%, but South East Asia saw revenue growth of over 5%, with all the Group’s major markets showing positive growth. As mentioned before, Mainland China and India showed combined growth of over 5%.
By communications services sector, branding and identity, healthcare and specialist communications (including direct, digital and interactive) have recovered more quickly with like-for-like revenue growth of almost 2% in the first quarter and over 2% in March.
The Group’s direct and interactive networks of Wunderman, OgilvyOne and G2 all showed like-for-like growth, with the Group’s specialist digital companies including 24/7 Real Media, Schematic, Blue Group and Quasar showing like-for-like growth of over 9%. Public relations and public affairs have also recovered with like-for-like growth of 0.7% in the quarter and over 4% growth in March.
Consumer insight revenues recovered strongly in sequential quarters and fell slightly by 0.4%, comparing quarters year to year, with the United Kingdom still pressured. Advertising and media investment management revenues were down 0.9% on a like-for-like basis. Within this sector, the Group’s media investment management businesses saw a return to growth in the first quarter.