When a FTSE 100 share falls by nearly 60%, I sit up and take notice. Generally, a drop like that means either the company is in serious trouble, or the market has made a mistake. In this case I’m talking about WPP (LSE: WPP), and I think the market is wrong.
The WPP share price had been dropping back from its 2017 highs when founder Martin Sorrell left the company in April 2018, after 33 years at the helm. Then, just when it looked like it had hit rock bottom, along came the Covid-19 crisis. And the shares plunged by 58% from the start of the year until the lowest point of the 2020 crunch. But they’re coming back strongly.
It’s easy to see the Covid-19 stock market crash as being behind WPP’s fall, just like any other FTSE 100 share. But that catastrophe has really just overshadowed the firm’s larger crisis. A crisis of leadership. Yet I think that’s being properly addressed, and the latest news on Thursday has put the firm one step further ahead.
WPP has appointed Angela Ahrendts to the board, albeit only in a non-executive director position at the moment. Ahrendts was the driving force behind Burberry, serving as the fashion giant’s CEO from 2006 to 2014. She was highly regarded in the business, and in my view one of the best FTSE 100 bosses we had. And Burberry was very much a must-have FTSE 100 share in thousands of portfolios.
I never quite understood her move to Apple in 2014, as Senior Vice-President of Retail. Perhaps I’m just reluctant to see the high-tech gadgetry business as edging ever closer to fashion.
Speaking of her new appointment at WPP, chairman Roberto Quarta said: “Angela’s reputation as a leader of creative and technology-driven businesses is second to none; she also has deep insight into our clients’ needs in a changing world.“
Ahrendts herself spoke of the firm’s “strategy that values creative talent while embracing societal shifts and new technologies.” That, I think, shows a key strategic move in WPP’s plans, to pursue high-tech marketing. And it’s making it a very desirable FTSE 100 share in my book.
A FTSE 100 share to buy?
To say that marketing is a big part of the fashion business would be a bit of an understatement. And after her years at Burberry, Ahrendts will surely have some of the best marketing experience in the whole of the FTSE 100. In her time there, Burberry developed leading marketing expertise in a digital world. Coupled with her knowledge from Apple, I think Ahrendts could make a significant difference at WPP.
And I can’t help hoping that this could be setting the scene for a future executive role. That, I think, could provide this FTSE 100 share with a very nice boost.
From its low in March, the WPP share price has gained 45%. And though Thursday’s morning gain fell back in the afternoon, I have high hopes. WPP is a buy for me, and it’s very much on my shortlist now.
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Alan Oscroft has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK owns shares of and has recommended Apple. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Burberry. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.