Jamie Oliver cooks up record sales for Pearson

The success of Jamie Oliver's latest cookbook helped drive the blue-chip publisher Pearson, which owns Penguin and The Financial Times, to lift its full-year profit forecasts for the third time since July.

Jamie's 30-Minute Meals has become the fastest selling non-fiction book of all time since its publication at the end of September. Its stellar performance, along with the expansion of the digital reading market, drove Penguin to record results for the year "despite tough conditions in the physical book retail market", the company said.

Pearson's chief executive Dame Marjorie Scardino hailed the "vigorous" growth "even though market conditions have been anaemic". The company now expects its operating profits for 2010 to hit £850m, roughly a fifth higher than the £710m in the previous year.

The company had already upgraded its earnings forecasts in the summer and then October and expects further growth in the new year. Dame Marjorie said: "We are on the right road and set out on 2011 with confidence that we will have another good year."

Pearson has continued to expand in the education market, which makes up over two-thirds of revenues. The bulk of sales come from north America, but the company said its education business outside the US was also growing fast and had enjoyed a strong fourth quarter. The FT Group, which publishes The Financial Times finished the year strongly and "will report substantial profit growth" Pearson said, adding the advertising markets had improved and subscriptions remained resilient.

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