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6 Percent Revenue Boost for WPP

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NEW YORK WPP Group today said its first-half revenue increased 6 percent to approximately $3.7 billion compared to the same period of 2003, based on the current rate of exchange. Before-tax operating profit for the half year rose more than 15 percent to nearly $430 million. On a constant-currency basis, revenue improved almost 25 percent.

The London-based holding company said it is on track to meet its margin target of 13.8 percent in 2004, and set targets of 14.5 percent and 15 percent for the next two years. WPP also said it has added more than $2.7 billion in net new business so far this year.

WPP, like other European holding companies Publicis Groupe and Havas, saw revenue growth in North America lag behind some other global markets. WPP said half-year growth in North America (which represents 40 percent of WPP's sales) was 11 percent, compared with nearly 30 percent for the Asia Pacific, Latin America, Africa and Middle East. Growth in Europe was about 9 percent.

WPP said concerns remain about the prospects for the U.S. economy after the presidential election, owing to the large deficit, the weak dollar, risks of inflation and high oil and commodity prices.