WPP 2021 Interim Results


Key figures – continuing operations

£ millionH1 2021+/(-) % reported[1]+/(-) %  LFL2H1 20203
Revenue less
pass-through costs
Operating profit/(loss)484n/m4(2,751)
Profit/(loss) before tax394n/m(3,177)
Diluted EPS (p) 20.6 n/m (262.0)
Dividends per share (p)12.525.010.0
Operating profit59054.4382
Operating profit margin12.1%3.9pt*8.2%
Profit before tax50281.9276
Diluted EPS (p)28.786.415.4
* Margin points

H1 and Q2 financial highlights

  • H1 reported revenue 9.8%, LFL revenue 16.1% (Q2 26.4%)
  • H1 revenue less pass-through costs 5.0%, LFL revenue less pass-through costs 11.0% (up 0.5% on H1 2019)
  • Q2 LFL revenue less pass-through costs 19.3%: US 12.6%, UK 31.8%, Germany 20.3%, Greater China 1.4%, Australia 8.4%, India 30.0%
  • Q2 LFL revenue less pass-through costs on 2019 1.3%: US 1.8%, UK 1.1%, Germany 6.3%, Greater China -1.7%, Australia -13.6%, India -2.6%
  • Strong new business performance: $2.9 billion net new billings in H1
  • H1 headline operating margin 12.1%, up 3.9 pt on prior year with strong top-line growth supporting significant reinvestment in incentives
  • H1 headline operating margin pre incentives up 7.8 pt to 17.0%
  • Net debt at 30 June 2021 £1.5 billion, down £1.2 billion year-on-year reflecting good working capital management

Strategic progress, shareholder returns and outlook

  • Shifting business mix: growth areas of experience, commerce and technology represented 26% of revenue less pass-through costs in H1
  • Launch of Choreograph, future-ready data and analytics company
  • M&A to simplify and grow: buy-in of WPP AUNZ minorities; technology acquisitions in Brazil and UK; Kantar agreed to acquire Numerator
  • Continued recognition of creativity and effectiveness: most creative company at Cannes, collecting 190 Lions including 12 Grand Prix, 1 Titanium, 28 Gold, 57 Silver and 92 Bronze
  • Industry-leading commitment to net zero carbon emissions across entire supply chain by 2030
  • £248m share buyback in H1, £350m planned for H2; 12.5p 2021 interim dividend declared, +25%
  • Full year 2021 LFL revenue less pass-through costs growth now expected to be 9-10%; headline operating margin towards the upper end of the 13.5-14.0% range
Source: WPP

Mark Read, Chief Executive Officer, WPP, said, “I’m delighted with our performance in the first six months of the year, at a time when COVID continues to take a toll on many countries. The like-for-like revenue less pass-through costs growth rate of 19.3% in the second quarter is our highest on record, as clients reinvest in marketing, particularly in digital media, ecommerce and marketing technology. We have returned to 2019 levels in 2021, a year ahead of our plan, with good momentum into 2022.

“We’ve also made very good strategic progress. Our recognition as the most awarded company at the 2021 Cannes Lions Festival reflects our investment in creative talent and the strength of our creative work over the past two years”, Mark added, “Our focus on data, commerce and technology, through strategic acquisitions, organic investments and the launch of Choreograph, has supported a strong new business performance. Key assignment wins include AstraZeneca, Bumble, JP Morgan Chase and Pernod Ricard.

“In procurement, property and shared services, we are making strong progress as part of our overall transformation programme. We have significantly increased our incentive pools in the first half, to reflect the tremendous contribution of our people in these challenging times, and in line with our intention to reinvest in talent announced at our Capital Markets Day in December 2020.

“We expect our strategy to translate into benefits for all of our stakeholders: a powerful, modern offer to support our clients’ growth; a great place for our people to work; a positive contribution to communities and the environment; and good financial returns for shareholders, with the interim dividend raised 25% and £600 million of share buybacks planned in 2021.”
For further information:

Investors and analysts: Peregrine Riviere, Caitlin Holt, Fran Butera (US)

Media: Chris Wade; Richard Oldworth, Buchanan Communications


MARKETING Magazine is not responsible for the content of external sites.

The APPIES is an annual event that presents a rare opportunity for creative, media, digital and marketing agencies or brands to present their best campaigns to the industry.

This is the only event where Live Presentations meets Live Judging.

Similar to TED Talks, The APPIES is the chance for great presenters with outstanding work to show it off to some of the industry’s most important industry leaders.

This year’s winners will receive Gold, Silver or Bronze trophies for 21 categories, and 6 special Best of Best categories (red trophies) that require no submissions!

Campaign entries must have run between June 2023 to May 2024

Submissions Deadline
30th June 2024

APPIES Festival – Judging & Presentations
11th – 12th July 2024 (Malaysia)


Download Event PDF
Submit Entries Here

Subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates in the marketing and advertising scene