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WPP FY Pre-tax Profit Falls

WPP plc (WPP.L,WPPGY) reported that its profit before tax for fiscal year 2019 fell by 21.9% to 982.1 million pounds from 1.258 billion pounds last year. In constant currencies, reported profit before tax fell by 22.3%.

Profits attributable to shareholders from continuing operations fell 33.0% to 628 million pounds from the prior year's 937 million pounds, reflecting principally the 153 million pounds of restructuring and transformation costs and 48 million pounds of goodwill impairment. In constant currencies, profits attributable to shareholders fell by 33.8%.

Reported earnings per share dropped by 41.3% to 49.5 pence from the prior year's 84.3 pence and decreased 42.3% in constant currencies.

Headline profit before tax from continuing operations was down 11.7% to 1.363 billion pounds from 1.543 billion pounds, and down 11.6% in constant currencies.

Headline earnings per share fell by 14.2% to 92.7 pence from 108.0 pence in the prior year. In constant currencies, earnings per share on the same basis fell by 14.9%.
Reported billings were 53.06 billion pounds, down 0.3%, down 1.4% in constant currency and down 1.0% like-for-like.

Reported revenue was up 1.4% at 13.23 billion pounds. Revenue on a constant currency basis was up 0.2% compared with last year. On a like-for-like basis, which excludes the impact of currency and acquisitions, revenue was flat.

The company's board proposes to maintain the final dividend of 37.3p per share, which, together with the interim dividend of 22.7 pence per share, makes a total of 60.0 pence per share for 2019, the same as the prior year. The record date for the final dividend is 12 June 2020, payable on 6 July 2020.

For 2020, the company projects like-for-like revenue less pass-through costs flat, with business performance improving during the year. It projects headline operating margin to revenue less pass-through costs flat on a constant currency basis.

The company said it is on track to deliver its financial targets by the end of 2021. It expects organic growth -- like-for-like revenue less pass through costs growth -- in line with peers; Headline operating margin of at least 15%.

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