November 17, 2011 / 10:34 PM / in 6 years

CORRECTED - UPDATE 3-Reed Elsevier on track in economic storm

(Corrects paragraph 11 to attribute to UBS the comment that LexisNexis is gaining market share, and to show that Thomson Reuters third-quarter legal revenue rose, not fell)

* Nine-month underlying sales up 1 percent

* Sees full year adjusted EPS in line with expectations

* Shares down 1.3 percent in London, 0.8 percent in Amsterdam (Adds shares, analyst comment)

By Georgina Prodhan

Nov 16 (Reuters) - Anglo-Dutch publishing and events group Reed Elsevier Plc/NV (REL.L)ELSN.AS posted a 1 percent rise in underlying sales for the first nine months of the year and said macroeconomic uncertainty had had only a marginal effect on its results.

Each of its five business areas showed underlying growth, excluding the effect of trade shows that happen every two years, with its LexisNexis legal products holding up well as demand from law firms remained subdued but stable, Reed said.

Reed Elsevier, whose world-leading trade shows include the London Book Fair and Aluminium China, has been making aggressive investments in legal products, where it competes with Thomson Reuters (TRI.TO) and Wolters Kluwer (WLSNc.AS).

The company, which also provides professional information for scientists, academics and doctors, said on Wednesday it should deliver full-year adjusted earnings per share in line with expectations.

A spokesman said the company saw consensus at between 45 and 46 pence per share, which would represent an increase of 4 to 6 percent.

“The recent uncertainty in the macro-economic environment has had a limited impact on some of our more cyclical businesses with only a marginal effect on our overall results to date,” Chief Executive Erik Engstrom said in a statement.

Shares in Reed Elsevier, considered a safe haven with steady subscription revenue that underpins its consistently high dividends, fell 1.3 percent in early trade in London and 0.9 percent in Amsterdam, underperforming a flat European media index .SXMP.

FORWARD BOOKINGS

“We believe execution at Reed has improved but we remain wary of how Legal will be squeezed between market leader Westlaw (part of Thomson Reuters) and challenger Bloomberg (which recently bought BNA for $1 billion),” analysts at brokerage Numis wrote in a note.

Numis kept its “hold” recommendation and price target of 536 pence on the stock, not far from its price of 531p at 0813 GMT.

Reed Exhibitions sales grew 12 percent, excluding the effect of biennial shows, and the company said forward booking trends remained strong, although it was watching out for changes in customer sentiment.

Legal and Professional underlying sales grew 1 percent. UBS wrote in a research note that it appeared Reed’s LexisNexis legal products were making some market share gains. Wolters Kluwer reported a slight drop in third-quarter legal and regulatory revenue. Thomson Reuters reported an increase in third-quarter legal revenue.

“While there have been some signs of increased U.S. law firm activity, this has yet to show through in legal headcount,” Reed Elsevier said.

LexisNexis Risk Solutions showed underlying growth of 4 percent, excluding an insurance software business the company has recently agreed to sell.

Scientific and academic publishing division Elsevier reported underlying growth of 2 percent, while magazine unit Reed Business Information grew 1 percent. (Editing by David Holmes)

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