By Adria Calatayud
WPP PLC said Thursday that it expects like-for-like net sales to be flat this year after posting a sharper-than-anticipated fall for the fourth quarter of 2019.
The London-based advertising giant said like-for-like net sales--a closely-watched measurement of its underlying operating performance--for the quarter returned to negative territory with a 1.9% decline after a 0.5% rise in the third quarter. Analysts had forecast a 0.8% decline for the fourth quarter, according to a consensus gathered by Vuma and based on seven analysts' forecasts.
WPP said like-for-like net sales fell 1.6% including its market-research unit Kantar.
For 2019 as a whole, like-for-like net sales fell 1.6%, or 1.2% including Kantar. This compares with WPP's guidance of a decline of between 1.5% and 2.0%.
The company said it expects an improvement in like-for-like net sales over 2020. Analysts expected a 0.4% increase for 2020, according to a Vuma-compiled consensus.
Pretax profit fell to 928.1 million pounds ($1.20 billion) from GBP1.26 billion on revenue that grew to GBP13.23 billion from GBP13.05 billion, WPP said. Net profit fell to GBP62.7 million, it said.
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