UPDATE 1-Reed Elsevier sees growth this year similar to 2013

Thu Feb 27, 2014 4:39am EST

By Paul Sandle

BARCELONA Feb 27 (Reuters) - Anglo-Dutch business information provider Reed Elsevier said it was confident that 2014 would be another year of growth after it met expectations with a 7 percent rise in earnings last year.

Reed Elsevier, which competes with Thomson Reuters, is moving more of its content to digital platforms, where data can be more easily organised, searched and analysed.

Its risk solutions business, which provides data to clients in financial services, achieved underlying revenue growth of 8 percent last year, driven by a strong take-up of new products by the insurance industry.

"We think our growth prospects, that we see at the beginning of the year, are very similar to the growth we had in 2013," Chief Executive Erik Engstrom told reporters on Thursday.

The owner of the LexisNexis legal and ScienceDirect medical and science databases posted adjusted 2013 earnings per share of 54 pence for its London-listed entity and 0.99 euro for the Dutch group, up 7 percent on a constant currency basis.

Analysts were expecting adjusted EPS of 53.5 pence, according to a company-supplied consensus forecast.

Revenue in Reed Elsevier's legal business grew 1 percent on an underlying basis, reflecting "subdued" demand from lawyers in the United States and Europe, it said.

Engstrom said he did not expect an improvement there in the near future: "We believe in the long run the legal markets are growth markets... However, in 2014, or right now in the early part of 2014, we see no sign of that pick-up happening now."

Shares in the company were trading up 0.8 percent at 916 pence at 0857 GMT in London.

Analysts at Citi described a "solid" set of results and said the overall outlook for growth "broadly consistent" with 2013 was in line with analyst forecasts, although a little below its own expectations. "We have assumed something of a pick-up in Legal," they said.

Overall underlying revenue, excluding the impact of exhibitions and events it holds every other year, rose 3 percent to 6.04 billion pounds or 7.1 billion euros ($10.1 billion).

The company said it would pay a full-year dividend of 24.6 pence, up 7 percent for its London-listed shares and up 8 percent to 0.506 euro for its Amsterdam-listed stock. It said it would spend 600 million pounds on share buybacks in 2014.

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