WPP, the world's biggest advertising group, yesterday smashed profits and revenue records but sounded a warning about "clouds on the horizon".
Annual pre-tax profits jumped 20 per cent to hit £1bn for the first time at the group that owns the ad agencies Ogilvy & Mather and JWT, the media-buyers GroupM and the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller. Revenues also hit a new record of £10.02bn – up 5.3 per cent on a like-for-like basis.
Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive, claimed it was "a pretty hot year" and announced a 38 per cent rise in the dividend to 24.6p.
Sir Martin was upbeat about this year with the Olympics, European football championships and US presidential elections all providing a boost. Even so, he forecast like-for-like revenue growth of 4 per cent this year – slower than 2011.
He was more concerned about next year because he fears "legislative gridlock" in the US and there will be no major global sporting events. However, he was hopeful the eurozone might now "avoid catastrophe".
WPP's business in the UK was one of the outstanding performers last year, with revenues up 6.7 per cent, despite the tough economy. Global staff numbers rose from 105,000 to 110,000, with the UK alone adding 903 jobs.