Financial Times publisher Pearson ( PSO) said first-half sales were improved but income took a hit due to tough year-over-year comparisons. The U.K.-based publisher made $13 million, or 2 cents a share for the first half of 2006. That compared to $623 million, or 78 cents a share, during the same six-month period last year. Last year's income included a $74 million gain on the sale of Pearson's stake in CBSMarketwatch, now owned by Dow Jones ( DJ), and a $559 million profit on the sale of Spanish media arm Recoletos. Sales rose 8% to $3.5 billion. "These results provide further evidence of the quality and potential of our business," said Chief Executive Marjorie Scardino in a statement. "All parts of Pearson are making strong progress, and our steady investment in new content and services is paying off with sustained organic growth, market share gains and margin improvement. We remain confident that 2006 will be another good year for Pearson both in competitive and financial terms." Sales at the Financial Times were up 10% and the paper turned over a $9 million profit, compared to a small loss in the prior-year period. Looking forward, Pearson says that it generally makes the bulk of profits during the second half of the year and it expects "to achieve strong underlying earnings growth, good cash generation and a further significant improvement in return on invested capital" with sales growth of between 3% and 5% across most divisions. Shares rose 19 cents early Monday to $13.65.