WPP upbeat after strong end to 2010

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WPP said its prospects for 2012 look promising due to the London Olympics

Advertising giant WPP has boosted annual profits to more than £1 billion after finishing 2010 with the fastest rate of growth in a decade.

Like-for-like revenues, excluding acquisitions and currency movements, rose 5.3% after a stronger-than-expected recovery in mature markets such as the US and Germany and in traditional media, including free-to-air television.

WPP, which is the world’s largest advertising and media group, described 2010 as a year of “significant recovery” as businesses bounced back from the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 and a “brutal” 2009.

The like-for-like revenues growth figure accelerated to 8.5% in the final quarter of last year – the fastest rate since the fourth quarter of 2000 – and included the first monthly double-digit growth since January 2001.

WPP, which owns agencies including Ogilvy & Mather and J Walter Thompson, is hopeful that current trends will be maintained this year as it forecast another 5% rise in like-for-like revenues.

Prospects for 2012 also appear promising due to the London Olympics and US presidential election, but WPP warned there could be a hangover in 2013 as the newly-elected American president wrestles with a ballooning deficit.

WPP said its headline pre-tax profits for 2010 rose 27.3% to £1.03 billion, topping £1 billion for the first time.

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