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When the world's largest holding company posts its biggest stock decline in almost two decades and predicts no growth for 2018, there will inevitably be questions over whether the holding company model is irreparably broken.

It isn't.

On Thursday's earnings call, WPP CEO Martin Sorrell said 2017 was "not a pretty year" for the company and blamed clients' zero-based budgeting, activist investors and private equity. But while all those factorsand morealso affect rival holding companies, several respected industry-watchers say the outlook isn't ugly for the industry, particularly because it is adapting to this new reality.

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