Pearson warns of tough 2013 as profits falter

PEARSON, the education and media business behind the Financial Times newspaper, has warned that annual profits will be lower than expected.

The company said “tough market conditions and structural industry change” were to blame for an unexpected fall in operating profits, and that these issues were likely to continue into 2013.

The announcement sent shares down almost three per cent in trading yesterday, making Pearson the biggest faller on the FTSE 100.

The company’s major difficulties came in US education. Its North American education division, which publishes textbooks and runs online learning tools, was hit last year by shrinking education budgets and fewer university students.

The FT Group, which has been a constant source of sale speculation since former Pearson boss Marjorie Scardino announced her departure in October, has seen revenue growth but lower profits, due to December 2011’s £450m disposal of data service FTSE International to the London Stock Exchange.

Scardino’s successor John Fallon is seen as less ideologically wedded than Scardino to the FT Group – which includes a 50 per cent stake in the Economist magazine as well as the Financial Times.

Last night, Financial Times editor Lionel Barber told staff the paper would be focusing on its digital operations, and would cut 35 staff.

Pearson said it expects an operating profit of around £935m for 2012, down from £942m in 2011.