By Adria Calatayud
WPP said Friday that second-quarter like-for-like net sales fell 1.4%, beating analysts' expectations, and backed its full-year guidance.
The London-based advertising and marketing company said like-for-like net sales--a closely-watched measurement of its underlying operating performance--for the quarter improved after a 2.8% decline in the first quarter. Analysts expected a 3.0% fall in the second quarter, according to a consensus forecast provided by the company.
For the first half as a whole, like-for-like net sales fell 2.0% on year, better than analysts' forecasts of a 2.9% decline, WPP said.
Pretax profit for the first half fell 44% to 478.2 million pounds ($580.9 million) from GBP846.5 million a year earlier. WPP said profit was hit by a charge after reassessing a credit as well as a year-earlier exceptional gain. Revenue rose 1.6% to GBP7.62 billion, the company said.
WPP reiterated its guidance for 2019 and continues to expect like-for-like net sales to fall by 1.5% to 2.0%, and headline operating margin to net sales to fall around 1.0 margin point on a constant-currency basis.
The company's guidance confirmation came after French peer Publicis Groupe cut its full-year organic sales guidance last month, citing client pressures and the effects of a restructuring.
WPP has struggled to deliver sales growth in recent years as consumer-good giants reduced ad spending and Facebook and Google entered a space once dominated by traditional agencies. The company has taken steps to simplify its operations, including through the sale of a 60% stake in its market-research unit Kantar last month.
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