Reed Elsevier pretax profit down 2.9% in first half

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London--Anglo-Dutch publishing giant Reed Elsevier plc said Thursday that earnings for the first half of the year fell 2.9%. The company also reiterated its target of double-digit growth despite warning that b-to-b advertising, an increasing share of its business, shows little sign of recovery.

For the first half, Reed posted a pretax profit of $613 million, down from $627 million a year earlier. Revenue rose 22% to $3.7 billion, from $3.1 billion.

In a conference call with reporters, Reed Elsevier CEO Crispin Davis said the company will cut another 100 to 150 jobs, with most of the layoffs coming from the Reed Business Information unit in the U.S. The group, which publishes around 360 trade titles, including Computer Weekly, Truck & Driver and Variety, posted a 9% drop in underlying revenue and profit. Reed derives around 30% of its revenue and 20% of its profits from the division.

Reed has cut about 1,000 jobs, most in the U.S., from a total staff of 38,000.

Davis said he expects second-half revenue to be flat compared with 2001, in line with previous company forecasts. The company said advertising markets remain difficult, with no marked deterioration since the beginning of the year and no real signs of relief.

--Matthew Schwartz

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