‘Ugly’ year for WPP but profits rise

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Advertising and marketing giant WPP warned of continued caution among its clients yesterday but still reported higher profits in an “ugly” year.

The group, which employs 165,000 staff in 110 countries, overcame fears over eurozone debts and the US budget deficit to post an 8.3 per cent hike in pre-tax profits to £1.1bn for 2012. It said that while its clients were in better shape than before the banking crisis in 2008, they still “lacked the necessary confidence” because of a number of known unknowns – such as the US budget deficit, which it said “remains the elephant in the room”.

Having downgraded revenue growth expectations for 2012 to between 2.5 per cent and 3 per cent per cent last October, WPP posted a 3.5 per cent jump to £10.4bn, helped by a 7.7 per cent increase in the UK to £1.3bn.

Its UK operating profits were up 5 per cent to £173m after a strong performance from its advertising business Ogilvy & Mather.

It also said its UK public relations and public affairs business had seen strong growth.