Tough trading hits Pearson

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The Independent Online
LORD Blakenham, chairman of Pearson, yesterday said it was his guess that the recession would continue for another two years.

'I believe the recession is going to continue for some considerable time yet and therefore you must be prepared for that and not rely on an upswing,' he said.

Pearson has reduced its workforce by 1,937 since 1990 and expects to lose another 130 employees by the end of 1992. That should lead to pounds 20m of cost savings in 1992 and a further pounds 11m in 1993. Tough trading in most of the conglomerate's businesses, which range from the Financial Times to Alton Towers, depressed pre-tax profits for the half-year to 30 June by 14 per cent to pounds 34.8m, down from pounds 40.7m. Total sales fell by 1 per cent to pounds 694.8m.

The oil services division suffered as exploration activity declined in its main market, the US. Trading profits fell to pounds 7.4m from pounds 16.6m.

Lazard, the investment banking business, saw its trading profits fall to pounds 7m from pounds 12.9m, reflecting the reduced level of merger and acquisition activity, mainly in the UK.

But a loss of pounds 13.4m in the books division was turned into a profit of pounds 2.4m as Penguin's authors climbed up the best-seller list.

Lord Blakenham said he had turned down two regional newspaper acquisitions during the half-year because they did not offer shareholder value. He was still looking for acquisitions at the right price.

Earnings per share fell to 4.4p from 5.1p. The interim dividend was held at 5.375p.

Pearson shares rose 2p to 314p.

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