London-headquartered agency holding company WPP Group reported Friday a 26% increase in third quarter revenues to £1.35 billion ($2.40bn; €1.99bn).

Although much of the growth is attributable to the acquisition of Grey Global Group in March of this year, organic revenue (which excludes currency fluctuations, disposals and acquisitions) grew 5%.

The globe's second largest agency holding company also raised its guidance for the full year: "Prospects for improvements in trading performance remain good," said a WPP statement, raising the group's forecast for full-year revenue growth from 3%-4% to 4%-5%.

Comments Numis Securities analysts Richard Hitchcock: "They've had a good year so far this year, though you wouldn't know it from looking at the share price."

Arguably driven down by a handful of high profile account losses and a spectacular 'own goal' scored by creative motormouth Neil French [WAMN: 24-Oct-05], the group's shares currently languish some 3% below the level at which they started the year.

But appearances are misleading and WPP's new business gains in the first nine months of 2005 are 45% ahead of last year - thanks largely to Ed Meyer and his Grey Global troops.

  • Meantime, Sir Martin Sorrell's foot-dragging over Aegis Group came to a head Friday when the UK Takeover Panel instructed WPP and its private equity henchman Hellman & Friedman to clarify their intentions regarding Aegis by November 25.

    "We'll continue to look at it over the next week or so and take a decision one way or another," Sorrell told Bloomberg News.

    Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online and Bloomberg News; additional content by WARC staff