British education and media group Pearson warned today that it expects tough market conditions to continue in 2013 after a weak fourth-quarter hit earnings last year.

The owner of the Financial Times newspaper and Penguin books publisher said it now expects to report adjusted earnings per share of around 84 pence for 2012.

This is below the 84.9 pence it had predicted in October.

The company said this is due to weaker educational funding in developed markets and sluggish advertising.

The result had already expected to be down on the previous year's earnings of 86.5 pence a share due to the sale last year of its 50% stake in the FTSE International market indexes business to the London Stock Exchange, which it said contributed 2.2 pence a share to earnings in 2011.

The downgrade from a group that is more used to surprising in the other direction was rare and hit its share price. The long-running concerns over the strength of education spending, particularly in the US, have led to Pearson shares underperforming the STOXX Europe 600 media and publishing sector index in the last 12 months with Pearson down over 3% while the index has risen nearly 15%.

The weakening conditions come at a time of widespread change for Pearson - for years one of the most stable media groups in Britain.

Marjorie Scardino stepped down at the end of last year after 16 years as chief executive, making way for the head of the international education arm, John Fallon, to take over. The appointment however has also resulted in the departure of the FT Group chief executive, Rona Fairhead, who missed out on the top job.

At the same time the group is merging its Penguin book publisher with Random House, owned by Germany's Bertelsmann, and it faces constant media speculation as to whether it will sell its FT Group under the new CEO, who has few ties to the newspaper industry.

Weak government spending in developed markets weighed on its school publishing business last year, while professional education struggled due to changes in training programmes in Britain, which has resulted in the planned closure of the Pearson in Practice business.

In North America it said it would report modest revenue growth last year after increasing its market share in what was a particularly tough year, with net sales for the combined US School and Higher Education publishing industries declining by 11% in the first 11 months of the year.

On the positive side, the company said its International arm would report double-digit percentage sales growth due to strong demand in developing markets, assessment and English Language Teaching.

Books group Penguin traded in line with expectations and digital and subscription revenues helped the Financial Times to counter weaker advertising sales.

As a result Pearson said it expected to report good revenue growth for the group as a whole at constant exchange rates for 2012 and operating profit of around £935m sterling, below a consensus market forecast of £942m.