Pearson Hits Some Targets, but Not Ads

Article excerpt

Pearson media group, which publishes the Financial Times newspaper, hit its earnings goals yesterday but the advertising downturn mauled its flagship title and the company said there was no recovery in sight.

Shares closed up 38p at516p. Sales of college books and slimmer Internet losses powered 2002 earnings per share 42 per cent higher, offsetting declines in its newspaper and school textbook publishing and helping drive the group's battered shares more than four per cent higher.

Pearson chief executive Marjorie Scardino has bet everything on education, transforming the group from a jumble of assets into the world's biggest education publisher. But the company stressed yesterday that the FT remained core to its business despite the recent battering as advertisers scale back spending.

'We're seeing no signs of an advertising recovery yet,' Pearson finance director Rona Fairhead said.

'Marjorie says the FT would be sold over her dead body and she's still very much alive.'

Pre-tax profits rose to pounds 399 million in the year to the end of December 2002, from a previous pounds 294 million, on sales of pounds 4.32 billion. Analysts had forecast pre-tax profits of pounds 383-404 million.

Pearson also beat its goal of 40 per cent growth in earnings per share at 30.3p and the finance director said she was 'pretty confident' the group would meet double-digit earnings growth this year too. …