Advertising demand drives up sales for WPP but shares slide

Global advertising giant WPP has said growth in advertising spending over the first half of the year has driven up its revenue, but shares in the group dropped.

The company – whose clients include Coca-Cola, Fortnite owner Epic Games and Adidas – made £6.8 billion in half-year sales and reported a 10.2% increase from the previous year.

Client demand for advertising campaigns and growth in the technology and healthcare sectors pushed up sales, WPP said.

The firm won 3.4 billion dollars (£2.8 billion) in new business alone this year, with Audi, Mars and Nationwide all adding to its extensive client list.

It also started working with the parent company of video game Fortnite, Epic Games, to develop digital experiences in the metaverse.

Last year, WPP won the majority of Coca-Cola’s four billion dollar (£3.3 billion) account in the biggest marketing deal in the beverage brand’s history.

The communications giant raised its full-year profit outlook after reporting a strong first-half performance.

It now expects its like-for-like net sales to grow 6-7% for the full year, up from its previous guidance of 5.5-6.5%, while it expects profits to be 0.5% higher.

But inflationary cost pressures, the impact of Chinese lockdowns and greater investment in its technology arms will narrow margins, WPP warned.

Shares in the London-listed company dropped by more than 7% on Friday as investors failed to revel in the minor lift in profit guidance.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs said the latest figures could be considered “a slight disappointment” despite the upgrade as sentiment had been buoyant following strong performances by sector rivals.

Mark Read, WPP’s chief executive, said: “We have enjoyed a strong first half, with broad-based growth across our creative, media and public relations businesses.

“As major advertisers increasingly look to integrate their marketing investments, we are well positioned to serve the world’s largest companies, demonstrated by our success with Coca-Cola, which we are now onboarding at pace.

“The second quarter saw significant assignment wins from Audi, Audible, Danone and Nationwide.

“The actions we have taken over the last four years leave WPP much better positioned with a more uncertain economic environment ahead.”