WPP plc WPP “Not a pretty year” says Sir Martin Sorrell about his companies performance in 2017.Top line growth was flat and operating margins and profits were either flat or only marginally up. To add to the gloom, 2018 has had a slow start which managed to be above budget but in January like for like revenue was flat.On a like for like basis 2017 billings were down by 5.4% or 3.9% at constant exchange rates, although revenue at constant exchange rates did show a rise of 1.6% but on a like for like basis it fell by 0.3% On a happier note profit before tax rose by 11.6% (7.7% constant currency) and the dividend is to be increased by 6%.
Rentokil RTO had a good year in 2017 and its strong performance exceeded its medium term financial targets. After a rise of 13.8% in adjusted profit before tax the final dividend is to be increased by 15.1% to 2.74p per share.On a constant exchange rate basis adjusted profit before tax rose by 6.2% and adjusted earnings per share by 5.2%. Pest control performed particularly well and the company was very active in the mergers and acquisitions field, where it acquired 33 pest control companies. The policy of expansion by acquisition is to continue.
National Express NEX delivered strong performances both internationally and in the UK during the year to the 31st December with significant increases inr evenue, profit and cash. This is recognised in the final dividend which is to be increased by 10%. Like for like profit before tax at constant exchange rates grew by 11.7% and group revenue by 6.1%. The UK bus and coach businesses delivered a strong second half after the declines experienced during the first half of the year. A good start has been made to 2018 with profit and revenue both showing rises in January.
Bovis Homes BVS is pleased with what it describes as its operational progress in 2017. This progress saw profit before tax fall by 26% and earnings per share by 25%. and there are not many companies which dare call that, progress. The ordinary dividend is to be increased by 6% after strong increases in the average selling price, up by 7% during the year. The company also expresses itself as being excited by the future which is not surprising if it can get away with price rises like that.