UPDATE 1-Pearson in talks to sell U.S. school courseware business

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LONDON, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Educational publisher Pearson said on Friday it was in talks to sell its U.S. school courseware publishing business in the latest stage of its restructuring following several years of turmoil at the British group.

The 174-year-old company is rebuilding after issuing a string of profit warnings sparked by the cost of moving to digital from paper textbooks, repeatedly knocking investor confidence and forcing it to cut thousands of jobs.

The group said on Friday that cost savings and a lower tax rate had enabled it to post 2017 adjusted operating profit at the top end of its recently upgraded guidance and to reiterate its forecasts for 2018.

That should provide some respite for the stock which is down 53 percent in the last three years.

Pearson has already sold businesses such as the Financial Times newspaper, the Economist magazine and a stake in book publisher Penguin Random House to focus on education but has struggled as the market changed.

It said in May last year it was reviewing options for its U.S. K12 business, which it described as being slow to adapt to digital, and it said on Friday it was now officially held for sale and was in talks with potential buyers for a deal.

"Pearson has made good progress against its strategic priorities in 2017 with further simplification of the portfolio, strengthening of our balance sheet and delivering results at the top end of guidance," Chief Executive John Fallon said.

(Reporting by Kate Holton, Editing by Paul Sandle)