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Pearson Says Trading Strong, All Units Doing Well

Educational publisher Pearson said on Monday trading was strong in the third quarter and that underlying sales and operating profit rose 6 and 20 percent respectively over the first nine months of the year.

The company, which also publishes Penguin books and the Financial Times newspaper, said its headline sales rose 4 percent with operating profit up 17 percent in the same period.

Pearson raised its full-year sales growth guidance within its professional education arm to 8-10 percent from 5-7 percent previously. The unit's sales rose 12 percent in the nine months and further margin improvement is anticipated, Pearson said.

"We still have a lot of trading ahead of us, but every part of the company is doing well," Pearson Chief Executive Marjorie Scardino said in a statement.

She said the company was benefiting from rapid take-up of its learning technologies, rises in audience and advertising at the Financial Times and efficiency gains within Penguin.

Pearson said underlying education sales rose 7 percent over the first nine months of the year and that it expects full-year schools sales growth around the top end of its 4-6 percent range with further margin improvements even after restructuring costs.

Sales within higher education rose 5 percent and the company is looking to worldwide full-year sales growth around the top end of the 3-5 percent range with stable margins.

Pearson said sales in its FT publishing division rose 8 percent and that advertising revenues had remained resilient during the recent volatility in global financial markets.

Penguin's sales rose 2 percent. The company gave no full-year guidance but said it expects margins to improve.

The third quarter is key for companies like Pearson doing business in the U.S. education publishing market as the start of the school year fuels textbook sales.