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Pearson Upgrades Outlook For 2010 After Strong First Half

By Lilly Vitorovich Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES LONDON -(Dow Jones)- Pearson PLC (PSON.LN) Monday upgraded its outlook for 2010 as the publisher reported better-than-expected first-half results, underpinned by the strong performance of its education and publishing operations. While market conditions remain uncertain and growth is expected to slow in the second-half due to tough comparables, Pearson, which generates about 60% of its total earnings and sales from its vast education operations, forecast adjusted earnings of approximately 70 pence a share for the year, up from 65.4 pence a year earlier. The guidance takes into account the earnings impact from the sale of its 61% stake in Interactive Data Corp. "The 2010 finish line isn't yet in sight, but this is as good a start to our year as I've seen. That boosts our confidence in the full year, enabling us to brighten our outlook and raise our guidance," Chief Executive Marjorie Scardino said. "We've invested consistently in global and digital education and information and that's helping every part of Pearson grow strongly, even in uncertain markets. We're also able to accelerate that change as we part company with Interactive Data and put the proceeds to work in the world's leading learning company," she added. Adjusted operating profit from continuing operations--one of the figures tracked by U.K. analysts--jumped sharply to GBP178 million for the six months ended June 30, beating market expectations of GBP97 million, underpinned by strong growth across all its businesses. That compares with GBP84 million a year earlier. Pearson, which also publishes the Financial Times newspaper and Penguin books, has been clear about its strategy to expand its education business in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Since the sale of its 61% stake in IDC for around $2 billion before tax in May, the group has bought two businesses, Melorio PLC (MLO.LN) for GBP99.3 million and Sistema Educacional Brasileiro's learning systems business for GBP326 million. Pearson declared an interim dividend of 13 pence a share, up 7% from 12.2 pence a year earlier. Pearson shares closed at 973 pence Friday, valuing the group at GBP7.79 billion. -By Lilly Vitorovich, Dow Jones Newswires; 44-0-207 842 9290; lilly.vitorovich@dowjones.com

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