BARCELONA (Reuters) - Britain's WPP
Martin Sorrell's group recorded 2013 like-for-like revenue growth, the main industry metric, of 3.5 percent after it rebounded in the second half of the year with growth of 4.6 percent.
It said like-for-like revenues were up 5.7 percent in January and it is targeting growth of more than 3 percent for 2014.
WPP outperformed French rival Publicis, which missed its annual targets after a slowdown in the fourth quarter. Publicis is set to merge with Omnicom of the United States to overtake WPP as the world's largest advertising group.
The strong trading by the British group enabled it to increase its share buyback programme to 2-3 percent of the share capital against the current 1 percent, which will help to counter the hit to margins.
The strength of sterling in the second half and final quarter against currencies in its key faster-growing markets, including India, Australia, Japan, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina and Indonesia, lowered reported margins by 0.2 margin points.
Despite this, the group said it has increased its target for revenue growth from the faster-growing emerging markets and its new digital services over the next five years.
Analysts at Numis said that, while the company is trading well, the shares could come under pressure from the hit to reported margins and slightly lower margin guidance.
(Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Paul Sandle and David Goodman)