Pearson is today providing a scheduled trading update ahead of our 2004 preliminary results announcement on 28 February 2005.
Pearson remains on track to achieve underlying progress in earnings, cash and return on invested capital in 2004. We expect to report adjusted earnings per share of approximately 30p and substantial growth in free cash flow. We continue to expect a significant acceleration in our financial performance in 2005, driven by a strong outlook for our education business.
Pearson Education and the FT Group ended 2004 in line with our expectations, with our Higher Education business growing ahead of its industry for the sixth straight year and the Financial Times breaking even in the fourth quarter. Penguin suffered as tough trading conditions persisted through the holiday season, particularly in US mass market and backlist titles.
We expect a reduction in our interest and tax charges compared with 2003. The full year average exchange rate was £1:$1.83 (against £1:$1.63 in 2003), which will reduce our adjusted earnings per share by approximately 4p compared with last year.
We are also announcing today that we have voted our shares in MarketWatch, Inc. in favour of Dow Jones's proposed acquisition of MarketWatch. We expect to receive proceeds of approximately $100 million on completion of the transaction.
For more information:
Luke Swanson/ Charlotte Elston + 44 (0) 20 7010 2310