In lonely splendour amid the magazine industry's current melancholia, Reed International announced yesterday it would hit its target of double digit earnings growth ahead of schedule.

Chief executive Crispin Davis, erstwhile boss of global media group Aegis, said Reed had deflected global economic malaise and would this year hit “double-digit earnings per share growth”, previously predicted for 2002.

Reed, the Anglo-Dutch parent of Reed Elsevier, also bettered analysts’ rune-casting with a 13% pre-tax profits increase to £410 million for the half-year ending June 30. The figure, however, excludes exceptional restructuring costs and increased goodwill at £14m.

Commented Davis: “We’re fortunate that Reed Elsevier has fundamentally such strong assets and has leadership positions in high-quality sectors. We feel reasonably confident that we can continue this momentum even if the economic downturn continues.”

But he warned that although only 16% of group revenues are linked to advertising, the second half would see a “broader and deeper impact” on Reed’s business titles in the US as a result of the slowdown.

Reed shares rallied 6% following the results, rising 33.5p to £6.09.

News source: The Times (London)