WPP Grows 5.3% in First Half

BOSTON Buoyed by strong performances in China and India, WPP Group today reported first-half pre-tax profit of $670 million, up nearly 7 percent, on like-for-like revenue growth of 5.3 percent to $5.8 billion, compared to the first six months of 2006.

Revenue growth in China and India were especially strong, rising 30 percent and 22 percent, respectively.

All told, WPP’s growth in Asia Pacific, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East was nearly 11 percent for the first six months of 2007. The company grew 5 percent in North America, 3 percent in Continental Europe and about 2.5 percent in the U.K.

“Levels of activity in 2007 should match, or surpass, those seen in 2006 and there are significant new business opportunities at both the network and parent company levels,” WPP said in a statement. “As long as the United States economy holds up, 2008 should be a good year too, buoyed by the build up to Beijing 2008 and heavy United States political spending, in advance of a presidential election, which may see Hillary Clinton nominated and elected.”

In July, WPP completed its $650 million purchase of 24/7 Real Media, and the company now reports that nearly one-quarter of its global revenue now comes from the digital and direct marketing sector.

The interactive space has been especially active of late, with WPP rival Publicis Groupe acquiring Digitas as the year began and Google’s $3 billion-plus acquisition of DoubleClick.

Based in London, WPP is the No. 2 agency holding company behind Omnicom Group, which disclosed its first-half financials last month. For the first six months of 2007, Omnicom said worldwide net income rose 12 percent to $460 million on an 11 percent gain in revenue to nearly $6 billion, compared with the first half of 2006.