Pearson reveals profit upgrade

The Financial Times and Penguin publisher Pearson upgraded its 2011 profit forecasts yesterday, saying it had a strong Christmas period and bucked the wider economic gloom.

Its chief executive, Dame Marjorie Scardino, expects a 10 per cent rise in profits, with earnings per share of 83p against 77.5p a year earlier.

The FT Group enjoyed "good growth" from digital and subscriptions although advertising was weak.

Penguin was also "strong" during the key pre-Christmas season thanks to hits such as Jamie's Great Britain and Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Pearson's biggest division, education, offset weakness in some developed markets by expanding in digital.

The shares, which recently hit their highest level since 2001, slipped 16p to 1230p as the City is used to Pearson beating expectations.

But analysts at the broker Numis Securities raised their 2011 profit forecast to £875m and hiked their target price on Pearson shares to 1374p.

Dame Marjorie, the FTSE 100's first and longest-serving female boss, has just completed her 15th year in charge and unveils full results on 27 February.