Financial Times owner Pearson Group brought some much-needed cheer to the media sector after beating analysts’ first half revenue forecasts by posting a 14 per cent rise in sales to £1.965bn, in what chief executive Marjorie Scardino described as “tough economic conditions.”
Pearson shares climbed 2.85 per cent to 612.5p after the group said it was now more confident about the outlook for the future.
“Our momentum is strong, even in these tough economic conditions. We have leadership positions in good markets and an effective growth strategy based on quality content, digital innovation and international expansion. That strategy makes us confident that 2008 will be another record year, and that we will continue to grow,” said Scardino in a statement.
Pearson, which owns Penguin books and is the world’s biggest educational publisher, saw a 38 per cent rise in operating profit to £124m while education sales rose 17 per cent due to growth in its digital learning services.
The FT Group bucked the decline experienced by most other newspapers, reporting an 11 per cent increase in sales and a 21 per cent jump in profits thanks to a 20 per cent increase in circulation revenues after the paper increased its price to £1.50
“Pearson is at the resilient end of the media sector and accordingly remains one of our key picks,” said analysts at Numis Securities, which retained its add recommendation and target price of 677p.
Collins Stewarts analysts took a more conservative approach. towards the stock.