WPP’s 2021 Q3 reveals strong second-half and surpasses pre-pandemic results

WPP has released its 2021 third-quarter results which report a strong start to the second-half across the business, returning to pre-pandemic levels a year ahead of forecasts.

Like-for-like growth was 6.9% in the September quarter when compared to 2019.

The company’s Q3 revenue was £3.24 billion (A$5.92 billion), up 9.1% for the three months, with like-for-like revenue up 14.7%, compared to 2020, when ad spend was dragged down by COVID-19 restrictions.

Top five markets in Q3 showed like-for-like revenue less pass-through costs were up in the US  by 12.4%,  up 16.9% in the UK, Germany up 34.5%, Greater China up 18%, and Australia up 2.4%.

WPP completed a full takeover of Australian operations WPP AUNZ in May this year for A$717 million.

The company’s net debt sits at £1.6 billion (A$2.9 billion) down £1.0 billion (A$1.8 billion) year-on-year at 2021 exchange rates.

During the third quarter, the global communications market continued to grow strongly, and this trend was widely reflected across WPP. The company’s strength in media combined with its focus on digital, commerce and data is delivering positive momentum in the business.

On a two-year basis, performance was led by GroupM (37% of WPP in Q3) which was up 14.6% like-for-like, and VMLY&R, which also grew double-digits.

Source: WPP [click to enlarge]

WPP chief executive officer, Mark Read, said: “Our very strong performance goes well beyond a cyclical recovery, with like-for-like growth over 2019 at 6.9% in the quarter. Clients across all sectors and geographies are making significant investments in marketing, particularly in digital media and ecommerce services. We are now above 2019 levels in all of our business lines, and with the actions we have taken over the last three years, we are even better positioned for growth.

“Our reshaped offer – which combines creativity with technology and data, through Choreograph, with the largest global media platform in GroupM – is proving its value for existing and new clients. This is reflected in the continuation of our longstanding and successful partnership with Unilever, and the growth of our relationship with Bayer. In addition, we are delighted to have won new assignments with Beiersdorf, L’Oréal, Sainsbury’s and TD Bank.”

Read continued: “We have also made strategic progress, creating the world’s leading board-level communications firm through the merger of Finsbury Glover Hering and SVC, and acquiring Satalia, a specialist in artificial intelligence. We continue to return excess capital to shareholders, buying back 4% of our shares so far this year. With strong client demand, a clear strategic direction and a strong balance sheet, we are well positioned to continue our momentum into 2022 and beyond.”

In Q1 2021, WPP reported a 1.8% increase in revenue for the three months to 31 March, compared to the corresponding period in 2020. The group recorded a quarterly revenue of  £2.897 billion (US$4.039 billion).


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