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Reed Elsevier revises down forecasts as its legal division feels the squeeze

ANGLO-DUTCH publishing and exhibitions group Reed Elsevier confirmed its forecast for a slightly lower 2010 operating margin as it invests to win back market share in its US legal business.

Reed said clients of its core legal, scientific and medical information products continued to pare back spending, as they had begun to do late last year, but said subscription renewals in science were almost complete and in line with expectations.

“Business trends seen in the second half of 2009 are continuing in 2010, particularly with regard to late-cycle effects in our relatively resilient professional markets,” the company said in an interim management statement yesterday.

Reed also owns the world’s largest exhibitions business, a stable of trade magazines -- which it is whittling down after failing to sell the whole unit -- and risk-management firm ChoicePoint, which sells intelligence on individuals and firms.

Legal division Lexis Nexis, the group’s biggest unit, continues to come under pressure, Reed said, as hard-pressed law firms seek further cost cuts in an environment of job losses and discounted rates. Reed Chief executive Erik Engstrom plans to increase investment in LexisNexis this year to help stem market-share losses to rivals.

Reed said its scientific and medical information unit Elsevier would see slower revenue growth this year.