Pearson Hikes Dividend by 7% to Yield 3.9%


LONDON -- The shares of Pearson were flat at 1,146p early this afternoon after the Financial Times publisher reported first-quarter sales rising 3%, to £1.2bn.

Pearson, which also publishes the Penguin books, revealed it expects operating profits for 2013 to be broadly similar to 2012, or 82p per share, in line with market expectations.

The company confirmed that profits will be lower in the first half of 2013, however, due to the phasing-in of £150m of restructuring costs to "reshape the company," and tackle new opportunities in digital print and developing markets.

The Financial Times segment of Pearson's business reported a 4% increase in digital subscriptions to 328,000, but faced "weak trading conditions for advertising" according to the company.

Looking at the year ahead, Pearson said:

We expect the external environment to remain challenging for our developed world and publishing businesses in 2013 owing to a combination of cyclical and structural factors: pressures on education budgets and college enrollments; retail consolidation; the shift in our business model from print sales to digital subscriptions; changing consumer behaviour and a dynamic competitive landscape.

In general, we expect market conditions to remain favourable for our businesses in developing economies and education software and services.

With a market cap of £9.3bn, Pearson is valued at 15.5 times expected earnings. The company will vote today to confirm an increase in the full-year dividend to 45p per share, offering a trailing dividend yield of 3.9%.

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