LONDON: WPP Group, the globe's largest advertising company by market capitalization, still lags Omnicom Group as international numero uno in terms of billings. But the London-listed giant on Friday eclipsed its US rival's 9.3% uplift in 2006 net income, roaring past Omnicom with 20% year-on-year net profits growth.

WPP profits hit £435.8 million ($855.87m; €650.16m), marginally below Omnicom's full-year $864.0m); while WPP's sales grew 9.9% to £5.91 billion - versus the US group's $11.38bn (£5.79bn).

WPP noted that in the fourth quarter of 2006, organic revenue growth sprinted to 7.2%, reversing a relatively weak Q3 in which a torpid UK advertising market and slower growth in eastern Europe dragged down organic revenue growth to 4%.

The group expects the world economy to show "steady growth" in 2007 and forecasts organic revenue growth of between 4% and 4.5%.

According to ceo Sir Martin Sorrell, continental Europe and the USA will grow at roughly the same rate. WPP's outlook, however, remains "cautious" given the possibility of some "cyclical softness" after the US elections in 2008 and through into 2009.

Sorrell added that "traditional media will continue to see pressure" worldwide.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online. additional content by WARC staff