Summary:

FT.com’s paid content strategy appears to still be paying off as owner Pearson (NYSE: PSO) announces “good growth” in content, subscription…

imageFT.com’s paid content strategy appears to still be paying off as owner Pearson (NYSE: PSO) announces “good growth” in content, subscription and digital revenues at FT Group, despite worsening advertising sales. In a Q109 trading update ahead of its AGM today, London-listed Pearson says that advertising at FT Group accounted for just 16 percent of its revenues and three percent of Pearson’s overall revenue, suggesting that paywall fees, B2B data subscriptions and events are proving enough to drive growth on their own. The division is expected to see operating profit percentage growth for 2009 of a “middle single digit” figure. FT Group profits rose 13 percent in 2008 to £195 million.

Pearson made revenues of £1 billion in Q109, £200 higher year on year but just a one percent increase on a constant currency basis. The company managed that even with the seasonally quiet winter period for its core educational publishing businesses. The company is proposing a final dividend of 22 pence per share making its total 2008 dividend 33.8 pence, a seven percent year on year rise. Pearson is expecting to better its 57.7 pence EPS in 2008, helped in part by a continued growth at FT Group. But that’s not quite as optimistic as predicting a 20 percent EPS rise for 2009, as Pearson did back in January. More after the jump…

Release.

Paywall success: FT.com is one of the few major global news sites to make a success of charging for general news content — a standard online sub costs £155.48 per year — although readers are allowed to see 20 stories a month for free and FT CEO John Ridding (pictuered) has mentioned that the number could go down to as few as 10. There’s no mention of how many paying subscribers the site has right now — but it must be an improvement on the 109,609 it had by the end of 2008, accompanied by almost one million non-paying registered users.

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