Financial Times owner posts 28% profit jump

Pearson, the publishing group that owns the Financial Times and Penguin, reported a 28% increase in pre-tax profits for 2010, boosted by a strong digital performance from its newspaper sites.

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Overall the company reported profits of £670m for the year, with revenues up 8% to £5.66bn.

Pearson marked a 12% year-on-year revenue increase at the FT Group which homes the newspaper and FT.com website to £403m.

The division, which introduced a paywall on its FT.com site in 2009, saw digital paid-for circulation up over 50% to 207,000.

The FT generated over 900,000 downloads of its app on smartphones and tablets, fuelling digital subscriptions.

Overall, group digital revenues were up 24% to £1.6bn, which now accounts for 29% of all Pearson’s sales.

Chief executive Marjorie Scardino says the FT Group is “rapidly shifting” its business model towards digital and subscription revenues.

Scardino adds: “Advertising revenues remain unpredictable, but we see healthy demand for the FT’s premium content, especially in digital formats, and a recovery in business conditions for Mergermarket [its business intelligence tool].”

Pearson says the outlook for advertising remains poor and ad sales now account for 45% of the FT Group sales, compared with 67% five years ago.

Last month The Financial Times was the only daily newspaper to see circulation slip in January – by 1.81% to 383,067 month on month. The title is down 2.77% year on year.

Underlying sales at book publisher Penguin rose 6% to £1.05bn for the year, while profit increased 26% to £106m, bolstered by strong Christmas sales of titles from Michael McIntyre and Jamie Oliver.

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