Global media buying group Aegis says full-year profits have risen above analysts' forecasts.

The London-headquartered firm shows underlying pre-tax profits, before exceptional items and charges, to be £93.9 million ($181.1m, €135.7m), up 16.6% from £80.5m in 2003.

Revenues in 2004 were £747m, up more than 15% from £648.8m the year before. Aegis media buying and planning agencies Carat and Vizeum added £1.1 billion in billings, including Procter & Gamble in the US, Lego and Deutsche Post.

Specialist market research unit Synovate saw its revenues soar by 24.4% to £272.4m.

New ceo Robert Lerwill , who took over from Doug Flynn in February, is understandably delighted with the results he announced and is optimistic about 2005.

He says: "The market in research will grow 4.5% and media about five per cent. Given our track record last year, when we significantly beat the market in both businesses, I think it would be reasonable to expect us to do that again."

He has, however, ruled out buying up the whole of top-ten market researcher NOP World, which has been put on the market by United Business Media [WAMN: 10-Jan-2005]. NOP has been valued by analysts at between £275m and £350m.

Says Lerwill: "If it is going to be sold as one group, which I understand is the intention, it is unlikely that we will be the purchaser because other people see more value for themselves in acquiring the bundle of companies than we do."

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff