So here are the five most depressing nuggets from from its Q3 2012 earnings report earlier today:
- WPP CEO Martin Sorrell cut his revenue growth forecast for the year, to 2.5 percent to 3 percent, down from 3.5 percent. (The stock dropped 5% on the news.)
- For the second quarter in a row, organic growth in North America was negative. This time it was down 0.4%. In Q2 it sunk 0.6%. Technically, that means WPP, which owns big American agencies like Ogilvy, Y&R, and JWT, is in a recession in the U.S., its biggest market.
- Organic growth in the first nine months of 2012 in North America was just 0.1%. That's terrible for a business that a few years ago was happily larding on 3-5%.
- WPP's ad businesses grew, but its specialty and PR business contracted.
- 2013 does not contain any of the "maxi-quadrennial" events that increase adspend, Sorrell notes. No presidential election, no Olympics and no World Cup. "In a way, the September softness could not have come at a worse time, as clients, most of who budget on a calendar year basis are preparing their estimates for 2013," the company said in a statement.
The good news: 2014 looks a lot better, because of the World Cup in Brazil and midterm elections in the U.S.
Until then, however, the next 14 months look like they're going to be a wash.
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