Pearson cuts losses but says advertising remains erratic

LONDON - Pearson, publisher of the Financial Times, said that business advertising had grown for the first time in three years, leading to a 19% reduction in its pre-tax loss from £138m last year to £112m this year.

Sales at the FT were up by 3% for the first half of 2004 to £104m, and the newspaper's operating loss was slashed from £15m in 2003 to £6m, after cost cutting.

Despite the good news, Pearson said that advertising trends remain erratic from week to week, although there have been improvements in recruitment advertising, as well as luxury goods and business travel. Technology and business-to-business advertising both remain week.

At Pearson's other newspapers, Les Echos in France and Recoletos in Spain, profits grew. Ad revenues were up by 14% at Recoletos, and by 7% at Les Echos.

Commenting on the interim results this morning, Marjorie Scardino, Pearson chief executive, said: "These results for the first half are a good sign of our financial and competitive success, though as usual they represent a small part of our annual total. They make us confident that we will meet our goals, both this year and beyond, as our market conditions improve."

Shares in the company rose this morning on the news, trading up by 5.5p at 623p, a rise of almost 1%.

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