WPP First-Quarter Like-for-Like Revenues up 4.3%

WPP Group, the world's second-largest advertising company, said on Friday its first-quarter like-for-like revenues increased 4.3%, reflecting the strong global economic environment.

Analysts had been expecting an increase in the region of 4.5%.

The company, whose agencies include JWT and Young & Rubicam, said it had seen some softness in the United States in the last few months, relative to the strong last half of 2006, but this had been largely counter-balanced by improvements in Western Europe.

WPP said the full-year operating margin was in line with its target of 15%. In the first quarter, both operating margins and profitability were in line with budget.

Like-for-like revenues from the U.S. were up almost 4% while western continental Europe, although still relatively more difficult, improved somewhat, particularly in France, Germany and Italy.

The U.K., although better, remains the slowest growing region in the group, it said.

It won net new business billings of 516 million pounds ($1.03 billion) in the first quarter and said it continued to benefit from consolidation trends in the industry, winning several assignments from existing and new clients."