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Elsevier increases sales and profits

Elsevier increased sales and profit in 2011 as the company said the decline in print sales was off-set by growth in medical research and electronic solutions.

The academic publisher saw its underlying sales grow by 2% to £2,058m for the year to 31st December 2011, from £2,026m in 2010, while its underlying operating profit increased by 4% to £768m from £724m, due to “increased efficiency” at the company.

The science and technology field performance particularly stood out, with the category increasing revenue by 4% due to “good growth in global research activity” while the health sciences genre remained flat by comparison. The publisher’s parent company Reed Elsevier said: “Good growth in medical research and electronic solutions were offset by print declines” and added that 2012 would continue to see “modest underlying revenue growth".

Reed Elsevier as a whole saw total revenue decline by 1% to £6,002m in 2011 but its pre-tax profit rose from £768m to £948m, whilst net debt was cut from £3.5bn to £3.4bn year-on-year. The company’s chief executive officer, Erik Engstrom, vowed to keep its five main assets Elsevier, LexisNexis Risk Solutions, Lexisnexis Legal & Professional, Reed Exhibitions and Reed Business Information, defying some analysts’ calls to break up the company.

Engstrom told the Financial Times: “High quality global journalism requires investment. We have no plans to divest any of our five major operating business areas. We have no plans to divest our main events business.” However, he added: “We expect to continue to make small disposals within all of our five main operating divisions, just as we have over the past two years. And we expect to dispose of businesses that we don’t think are aligned to the strategic direction that we want to go.”

In the statement, chairman of Reed Elsevier Anthony Habgood, said: “Reed Elsevier continued its positive momentum in 2011. All five business areas contributed to underlying revenue growth…underlying operating profits grew well, and we delivered a good increase in earnings per share. Our chief executive has continued to reshape his team with several new management appointments and I am confident that our actions will continue to strengthen our long term growth prospects.”