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Pearson reports growth, FT struggles

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London—Pearson, publisher of the Financial Times, said Monday that its overall sales totaled $3.95 billion in the first six months of 2009 compared with $3.24 billion in the same period last year. Much of the growth was due to the relative strength of the U.S. dollar versus the British Pound.

Pearson, which said it generates about 60% of its revenue in dollars, said the "underlying" growth, which factors out the impact of currency, was a 1% increase.

Pearson's FT Publishing unit saw a 6% decrease in overall revenue in the first six months of 2009, which fell to $290 million compared with $310 million in the same period of 2008. Pearson said the underlying decline was 13% in large part due to declines in financial and corporate advertising.

The company said it does not expect to see the advertising cycle turn upward "any time soon." It said that its focus in the past five years on limiting the company's reliance on advertising revenue is helping it through the current steep decline in advertising.

FT.com's online subscribers increased 18% to 117,000. Additionally, the number of registered users on FT.com increased 211% to 1.4 million and the number of monthly unique visitors climbed 60% to 9.8 million.

"The transformation we've been pursuing for a decade—from 'publishing' company to content, technology and services company—is paying off. Over the past six years, Pearson has delivered substantial growth; this year is about proving our resilience and competitive edge," Pearson CEO Marjorie Scardino said in a statement.

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