WPP PLC (WPP.LN) said revenue growth slowed in the first quarter as clients spent less in the U.S. and emerging markets.
The world's largest advertising company kept its forecast for slower growth for 2017, reflecting a couple of large account losses and what it called "challenging top line growth opportunities and uncertainties" for its clients.
Like-for-like net sales--a measure used to judge the company's underlying performance--rose 0.8% in the three months to March 31, in line with the expectations of analysts. WPP said that particularly strong sales growth in the same period a year earlier made the latest figures look weaker and growth would accelerate in the second half.
The U.K.-based company, whose agencies include Mindshare and JWT, said Thursday that operating profit was well above budget and ahead of last year. Reported revenue rose 17% to GBP3.6 billion, lifted by favorable currency translation.
Run by Chief Executive Martin Sorrell, WPP has expanded its digital operations and made acquisitions to outpace rivals like Omnicom Group Inc. (OMC) and Publicis Groupe SA (PUB.FR) as spending for ads in traditional media has slowed in recent years.
WPP repeated that it is budgeting for around 2% growth in both revenue and net sales for 2017.
Write to Nick Kostov at Nick.Kostov@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
April 27, 2017 02:18 ET (06:18 GMT)