Earnings: FT Profits Hit By Ad Downturn, Online Subs Up

Free and paid subscriptions are still growing, but not by enough to keep Financial Times profits in the same direction. FT Publishing’s January-to-June operating profit crashed 40 percent from last year to £14 million ($23 million), on 13 percent worse revenue of £176 million ($289 million). But at least it’s still in positive territory.

FT has been weening its revenue mix away from advertising and toward subs and digital since 2000; it’s slimmed advertising’s contribution from 25 percent last year to 18 percent today. Nevertheless, it’s precisely the advertising crash that has hurt it this time, blaming “tough market conditions for financial and corporate advertising, as expected”.

— Free FT.com memberships rose 211 percent to 1.4 million (just 12,000 in 2007). Average monthly uniques up 60 percent to 9.8 million.
— Paying subs up 18 percent to 117,000+.
— Online now makes up 67 percent of FT Group revenue.
— Worldwide print circulation down six percent to 421,429 (ABC). UK print readership up 15 percent to 417,000 (NRS).

Elsewhere in FT’s parent Pearson…

— Penguin operating profit plummeted 23 percent to £21 million ($34 million), on eight percent worse sales of £452 million ($743 million), without explanation. Targeting 14,000 ebooks by year’s end (up from 10,000). Launched two interactive kids’ book tools (From The Publishers’ Office in the US, We Make Books in the UK), plus £4.99 ($8.50) DK Eyewitness iPhone apps.
— Interactive Data operating profit rose seven percent to £74 million ($121 million), on nine percent higher revenue.
— North American Education, Pearson’s largest business, saw one percent higher sales of £943 million ($1.5 billion). International education sales rose 13 percent to £446 million ($733 million).

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