'Record profits' expected for FT publisher Pearson

The Financial Times is continuing to see growth in its audience, revenue and profits, despite the recent uncertainty in the global financial markets, its parent company Pearson said this morning.

In a trading update to the City this morning, covering the first nine months of 2007, Pearson said the company as a whole had “traded strongly”.

On a like-for-like basis, operating profits between January and September were 20 per cent higher than the same period last year – with revenue up six per cent.

FT Publishing has seen revenues in the past nine months rise eight per cent on the same period last year. The company said advertising revenues “remained resilient” – up nine per cent year on year – despite the knock-on effects of the “credit crunch”.

“All our businesses are trading in line with, or ahead of, our previous guidance,” the company said. “For the full year, we remain on course to achieve strong underlying growth on our key financial measures: earnings, cash generation and return on invested capital.”

Pearson chief executive Marjorie Scardino said the Financial Times was expected to continue achieving double-digit profit margins as the year progresses.

“We’re benefiting from sustained increases in our audience and advertising at the FT,” she said. “This increases our confidence that 2007 will be another year of record profits for Pearson.”

Last month, it was reported that Pearson was looking to further expand the English-language edition of the Financial Times worldwide and was in talks to sell its stake in German-language sister title, FT Deutschland.

The German title was set up in 2000 as a joint venture between Pearson and publisher Gruner & Jahr and has a circulation of around 100,000. According to the FT, it is not forecast to break even until next year.

If successful, the sale will be the latest in a series of moves by Pearson to exit the European market and make way for the English-language FT to grow into a global brand.

The company said this morning that it remains in exclusive negotiations with French firm LVMH over its proposed acquisition of the country’s financial daily, Les Echos. In 2004, Pearson sold its stake in Expansion – a Spanish-language business title.

According to the September national newspaper circulation figures from ABC, more than two thirds of the FT’s 441,000 circulation comes from overseas sales.

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