Despite a revenue drain by its flagship Financial Times title, international media conglomerate Pearson lifted its 2003 full year profit by 2.8% to £410 million ($761.41m; €614.69m).

The result was constrained by a continued decline in advertising volumes at the FT -- down by nearly two-thirds on its acme in 2000. In the second half, circulation sagged to 433,000, 4% lower than H2 2002.

There is some consolation, however, in the performance of the FT's online sibling, where subscriptions rose by around fifty per cent to 74,000.

Since the halcyon days of 2000, Pearson has cut costs at the FT by more than £100m, although rumours persist that the one-time licence to print money is to be put up for sale. Pearson vigorously denies this.

Says finance director Rona Fairhead: "There are a lot of good reasons [to keep the FT]. We have a whole group of business newspapers worldwide. We benefit from having that breadth. We have terrific brands and we know how to manage brands."

Pearson chief executive Dame Marjorie Scardino did her best to talk up future prospects: "We are now leaner, stronger and more ready for the better conditions we're beginning to see ahead. In 2004 we expect to make further underlying progress toward our financial goals and in 2005 we see a very strong performance from our whole company."

And to prove there is Nothing Like a Dame who puts her money where her mouth is, Scardino revealed she is swapping $1.2 million (€0.969m; £0.646m) of her company pension entitlement for Pearson stock. “I did it because I think it [the share price] is a real bargain. I am going to stay around until the share price is so high that I am happy with it.”

Data sourced from multiple origins; additional content by WARC staff