WPP shares plunge amid poor quarter and warning

Sir Martin Sorrell
Sir Martin Sorrell

Shares in WPP collapsed after the firm trimmed full year guidance, reported lower than expected third quarter sales and confirmed that it wants to offload a stake in Kantar.

The advertising giant, which has been rocked by the departure of founding CEO Sir Martin Sorrell, saw like-for-like sales fall 1.5% in the three months to September 30, a worse performance than City analysts had forecast.

Overall revenue declined 0.8% to £3.76 billion in the quarter. In addition, it now expects full year like-for-like net sales to fall by between 0.5% and 1%, a downgrade on previous guidance.

Shares tumbled over 20% to around 870p in morning trade.

Current boss Mark Read said turning the firm around will require “decisive action and radical thinking”.

To this end, he announced that WPP’s is examining “strategic options” for its market-research unit Kantar.

“We believe in the potential for Kantar but given our many priorities, we need to make tough choices and we believe that the best way to unlock this potential is with a strategic or financial partner,” he said.

“The board has approved a formal process to review the strategic options that will maximise share owner value.”

Sir Martin left the company he founded more than 30 years ago, following allegations of personal misconduct.

His departure remains mired in controversy, with WPP carrying out an inquiry into allegations that he misused company funds, but the details of the investigation were never revealed.

He has since gone on to start up a rival business