When arch-pessimist Sir Martin Sorrell opines that things are looking better than expected, the markets react as they might to news that income tax will be abolished tomorrow.

As, of course, the canny knight knows full well. Addressing a Merrill Lynch conference in London Tuesday, Sorrell revealed that WPP Group's March and April revenues had bettered its Q1 average. A comment that did no harm at all to WPP shares -- up on the day by 1.7% to £5.685 ($10.44; €8.51).

Sir Martin told the assembled entrail-rakers he intends to set margin targets for next year at between 14-15 per cent, upping this to 15% plus for 2006. And given WPP's recent string of new global business wins (among them HSBC and Toys R Us), it is likely that good times are indeed ahead for WPP investors.

If the Norns will.

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff