WPP reported an 8% revenue gain on a constant currency basis to slightly more than $7.6 billion for the first half of 2011, largely as a result of current fluctuations that favored the British pound during the period, the ad holding company said.
Organic revenue growth -- a key metric for the industry, which excludes acquisitions and currency fluctuations -- was lower, but still up 6.1% for the half. That was at the low end of the range of other holding company competitors for the same period.
At the high end, Publicis Groupe reported 7.1% organic growth for the same period. The comparable figures for Interpublic Group and Omnicom were 6.8% and 6.2%, respectively.
WPP's profit for the half was just over $428 million, up 61%.
By region, organic growth was strongest in Asia Pacific, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Central Eastern Europe, where it was up 10.5%, and weakest in Continental Europe (2.9%). In North America it stood at 5.4%, slightly better than the UK's 5.1%.
The company indicated that it is pleased with its growth so far this year and expects comparable results for the remainder of 2011. Through July, the company stated, organic growth was 5.9%, with a gross profit margin of 6.6% and assessments this month by the company's top managers "indicates very similar levels for like-for-like revenue growth and gross margin growth for the year."
While there are a number of economic and financial clouds to worry about across the globe, they aren't likely to have much impact in 2011, WPP said. And 2012 has several positive factors going for it, including the Summer Olympics in London, the U.S. elections -- with political spending possibly reaching $4 billion -- and European soccer championships. All those events, said WPP, will likely add 1% to 2% incremental demand for advertising and marketing services worldwide.
In sum, the company said, "even as economic stress levels increase and intensify [WPP's] strategic focus on new markets, new media and consumer insight, along with the application of technology and data analytics, will become even more important."
Clients, the company said, will increasingly look for growth, advice and resources in emerging markets -- as well as in digital communications "and in understanding consumer motivations and changing media consumption habits."