WPP Boosted by U.S., U.K.

By Dow Jones Business News, 

By Ruth Bender

PARIS-- WPP PLC on Friday said the year started stronger than expected even though revenue is still weighed down by unfavorable foreign exchange rates.

WPP said organic revenue--a metric that excludes currency shifts, acquisitions and disposals--rose 7% in the first three months of the year driven by the U.S. and U.K. The rise, which beats the performance of its rivals in the quarter, came despite a slowdown in China.

France'sPublicis Groupe SA last week reported organic revenue of 3.3% while Omnicom posted growth of 4.3% and IPG 6.6%.

"Following the group's record year in 2013, 2014 has started stronger," WPP said in a statement.

WPP, which is still the world's largest advertising group as the merger of Publicis and Omnicom is still pending, said the first-quarter performance could lead to stronger full-year growth than initially planned. The company has previously said it is targeting organic revenue growth of over 3% for 2014. On Thursday, the group said, growth should be "up strongly" this year. The group confirmed it still aims for its operating margin to grow 0.3 percentage point this year.

Overall revenue rose 1.5% to GBP2.57 billion from GBP2.53 billion last year, weighed down by the strength of sterling against many currencies, particular those in emerging markets. WPP warned earlier this year that currency swings are likely to weigh on the group during the year.

The world's largest ad firms all have reported improving sales growth for the latest quarter, driven by strong growth in the U.S., the world's largest ad market, but also a return to growth in Europe, which helped offset weaker growth in China.

Write to Ruth Bender at Ruth.Bender@wsj.com

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This article appears in: News Headlines

Referenced Stocks: OMC , WPPGY

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