WPP reports better-than-expected full-year 2012 results

Advertising giant WPP has reported better-than-expected full-year 2012 results.wpp

Full preliminary WPP results

Highlights

  • Reported billings decreased slightly to £44.4bn, primarily reflecting the strength of the £ sterling, although up 1.6% in constant currency driven by leadership position in net new business league tables
  • Revenue growth of 3.5%, with like-for-like growth of 2.9%, 2.9% growth from acquisitions and minus 2.3% from currency
  • Like-for-like revenue growth in all but one region, characterised by particularly strong growth in Asia Pacific, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East and all but one sector (public relations and public affairs), with strong growth in advertising, media investment management and specialist communications
  • Like-for-like gross margin growth at 2.4%, with slower growth in the Group’s consumer insight businesses in the mature markets of North America, the United Kingdom and Western Continental Europe
  • Headline EBITDA growth of 7.0% giving 0.5 margin point improvement, with operating costs (+2.8%) rising less than revenues
  • Headline PBIT increase of 7.1% with PBIT margin rising by 0.5 points to 14.8%, surpassing the previous historical pro forma high of 14.3% achieved in 2011
  • Exceptional gains of £102 million on sales of stake in Buddy Media and New York property
  • Exceptional restructuring charges of £93 million taken chiefly in respect of Western Continental European businesses and IT infrastructure
  • Gross margin margins, a more accurate competitive comparator, up 0.6 margin points to an industry leading 16.1%
  • Headline diluted EPS up 8.4% and reported diluted EPS down 2.6% (reflecting last year’s exceptional release of corporate tax provisions), with 15% higher final ordinary dividend of 19.71p and full year dividends of 28.51p per share up 15.9%
  • Average net debt increased £373m (13%) to £3.203bn reflecting increased spending on acquisitions (chiefly AKQA) and higher dividends, partly offset by relative improvement in working capital
  • Creative excellence recognised by the award, for the second consecutive year since its inception, of the Cannes Lion for the most creative Holding Company
  • Over last two years alone headline diluted earnings per share up almost 30%, dividends per share up 60% and the dividend pay-out ratio increased from 31% to 39%

UK, London

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