WPP shares slide once more after fourth-quarter slowdown

FILE PHOTO: Branding signage is seen for WPP Group, the most important world promoting and public relations company at their places of work in London, Britain, July 17, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) – WPP (WPP.L), the world’s greatest promoting firm, reported a pointy slowdown in its closing quarter of the 12 months on Thursday and mentioned it didn’t anticipate any enchancment in 2020, hammering its shares as soon as once more.

WPP, which is in the midst of a three-year turnaround plan after it misplaced some main purchasers, reported a 1.9% drop in its essential measure of natural income minus pass-through prices after recording 0.5% progress within the earlier quarter.

Its shares fell greater than 12% in early buying and selling to their lowest since Feb. eight final 12 months.

For 2020, it mentioned it could goal flat natural income and a flat headline working revenue margin, which was 14.4% in 2019, earlier than rising according to rivals by 2021.

“I’m optimistic about the way forward for our trade and WPP’s place inside it, though there’s nonetheless way more work to do,” Chief Govt Mark Learn mentioned.

For its 2019 fiscal 12 months, the corporate reported a 1.6% drop in natural gross sales, which excluded its knowledge enterprise Kantar after it bought a serious stake within the division to Bain Capital.

WPP has endured a troublesome three years after shedding main purchasers comparable to Ford (F.N) and American Categorical (AXP.N) in the US. Whereas its working efficiency has began to enhance, its shares had already greater than halved since March 2017 earlier than Thursday’s slide.

Learn, an organization veteran who took over from founder Martin Sorrell in 2018, has merged businesses and adjusted incentive schemes to offer a extra streamlined service after purchasers complained that WPP, which owns Ogilvy, Gray and Finsbury, had grow to be too unwieldy.

The sale of a 60% stake in Kantar for about $3.1 billion helped the group to chop its debt considerably.

Reporting by Kate Holton; Enhancing by Paul Sandle and David Clarke

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