Pearson: Financial Times remains strong in recession

Financial Times publisher Pearson has said it is continuing to grow its content, subscription and digital revenues at FT Group despite the tough economic conditions.

In a trading update covering the first three months of 2009, the company said today that although advertising had worsened since the New Year, this only accounted for 16 per cent of the FT Group’s revenue.

The FT increased its cover price from £1.80 to £2 last month. The paper’s price has risen steadily over the past year.

Pearson said it expected group full-year profits in 2009 to either match or beat last year.

Chief executive Marjorie Scardino said: “The economic environment makes us cautious about this year, but we’re encouraged by the start we’ve made.

“It indicates that Pearson can continue to perform well, even as some of our businesses face tough market conditions.

“Our focus is on trading well again this year, while still investing in our long-term growth opportunities in digital businesses and emerging markets.”

Pearson, which holds its annual general meeting in London at midday today, is proposing to give a total dividend of 33.8p per share – up seven per cent on the previous year.

All of Pearson’s executive directors saw their salary increase in 2008, but their bonus drop. Group chief executive Marjorie Scardino was paid £2.057m in total, down 12 per cent from £2.332m in 2007.

For 2009, the group has frozen the salary of all those earning more than £30,000. The FT recently cut 80 staff – including 20 journalists – in a cost-cutting drive.

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