FT revenue falls but Pearson raises predictions

Revenue at FT Publishing, the division that owns the Financial Times, fell 14 per cent year on year during the first nine months of the year – despite this parent company Pearson raised its predicted earnings for the full year.

FT Publishing’s headline revenue fell eight per cent over the period with a fall of 14 per cent once the effect of currency exchange rates was accounted for.

Pearson said: “The Financial Times continued to face a weak market for financial and corporate advertising in the third quarter, but it is benefiting from its long-term strategy of earning premium revenues from users for valued content in print and online.”

The company said FT.com now had more than 1.6 million registered users online with 121,000 paying subscribers using its online services, up 22 per cent on the same period last year.

FT Group recorded a rise in headline sales of more than 10 per cent during the period; however this was boosted by changes to the exchange rate. The group recorded a three per cent year-on-year decline on constant currency levels.

At The Economist Group, of which Pearson holds a 50 per cent stake, advertising “remains weak but subscription and content revenues continue to grow.”

Overall, Pearson, which owns a sizable US education business and Penguin Books, saw headline sales rise by 20 per cent year-on-year – a rise of two per cent at a constant exchange rate – while operating profit rose by 19 per cent, up three per cent at CER.

The company raised its earnings per share estimate for the full year to “at or above” 60 pence a share at an exchange rate of $1.64 to the pound.

Pearson said its education businesses were performing “ahead of expectations” with headline sales rising 25 per cent year on year – five per cent on a constant currency basis.

Marjorie Scardino, chief executive, said the company had “proved its strength” after beginning 2009 in a cautious mood.

She said: “We began 2009 in a cautious mood, wary of the impact of the global economic crisis on our company. We have now seen enough of it to say that, though no part of Pearson has been untouched, the company as a whole has proved its strength…

“We have steadfastly pursued a strategy based on quality content, digital innovation, new markets and efficiency gains.

“As we look towards 2010, we intend to be even more aggressive in these areas – especially new services and fast-growing markets.”

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