Pearson says its full-year earnings rose

PUBLISHING group Pearson raised its full-year guidance yesterday, saying it now expects adjusted earnings to be at or above 60p per share (EPS) following a strong performance from its education business.<br /><br />Pearson, the world&rsquo;s largest education publisher and the owner of the Financial Times and Penguin Books, said nine-month sales were up two per cent at constant exchange rates after the group traded ahead of expectations.<br /><br />Despite the tough economic environment, the FT Group and Penguin performed in line with expectations after benefiting from investments in digital products and emerging markets.<br /><br />&ldquo;We began 2009 in a cautious mood, wary of the impact of the global economic crisis on our company,&rdquo; said chief executive Marjorie Scardino. &ldquo;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.&rdquo;<br /><br />Pearson&rsquo;s strong educational business with market-leading testing and digital products, as well as the reduction in its exposure to the volatile advertising market, have made it a favourite defensive stock.<br /><br />Analysts said Pearson, which had previously targeted adjusted EPS guidance of at least 57.7p, could still surprise further.<br /><br />&ldquo;Pearson has raised its guidance by 10 per cent this year,&rdquo; said Numis. &ldquo;The fourth quarter remains important, and for Pearson to raise guidance again at this stage indicates to us that this guidance (and our forecasts) are still likely to prove conservative.&rdquo; UBS also said it saw further upside potential to forecasts.<br /><br />In education, Pearson said it had gained share and grown faster than expected in North America, with growth of four per cent at constant exchange rates.<br /><br />Pearson shares, which have risen almost 35 per cent in the last three months, closed at 858.50p.