Pearson is the world’s leading learning company, with 48,000 employees in 70 countries and a strong consumer publishing division led by Penguin, which publishes over 4,000 fiction and non-fiction books each year, as well as the Financial Times newspaper (not included in this ranking).
Pearson has seen organic growth and made continuous investments over the past decade, overcoming the economic crisis of 2008 with total revenues of 4.4 billion GBP in 2007 to 6.1 billion GBP in 2012, and with profits rising from 600 million GBP to 950 million GBP.
Key Company Developments in 2012 & 2013
Pearson Education accounts for 76% (+1%) of the earnings and 84% (+4%) of the operating profit in 2012, Penguin for 17 % (-1%) of revenues and 11 % (-1%) of profits, and the Financial Times is stable at 7% of revenues and 8 % (-3%) of profits. 59% of revenues were earned in North America in 2012 (and 74% of profits, plus 7%), 22% of revenues (and 12% of profits, minus 9% ) came from Europe, and 13% of revenues (and 7% of profits) from Asia. While overall revenues of 6.11 billion GBP in 2012 were up 5%, operating profits were down 1% against 2011.
Return on investment was stable at 9.1%. Despite strong sales, earnings and cash were lower than the previous year.
For first quarter 2013, Pearson reported that results are in line with their expectations, with Penguin seeing “a good start to the year." Sales rose by 3% for the three months ending March 31st 2013, to 1.2 billion GBP.
Ownership, Mergers & Acquisition, Internal Organization:
John Fallon became Pearson’s chief executive on January 1, 2013, succeeding Marjorie Scardino. Fallon spent four years as head of Pearson's international education division. A new leadership team was appointed in May 2013, and Pearson’s portfolio will be structured with three global divisions (School, Higher Education and Professional) and three geographic market categories (North America, Growth and Core). The changes will take effect on January 1, 2014. Restructuring costs will amount to approximately 150 million GBP in 2013.
The merger of Penguin with Bertelsmann’s Random House made headlines worldwide, as the combination makes for the world’s largest consumer publishing company. Pearson holds 47% of the combined organization. The merger is expected to be completed in the second half of 2013. It has already been approved in the US, Australia, New Zealand, the EU and Canada. With the consent of the Chinese trade ministry in early June 2013, Random House and Penguin have the green light for their merger. The fusion is expected to be finished at the end of July 2013.
In July 2012, Pearson acquired self-publishing vendor Author Solutions for $116 million from Bertram Capital. It is one of the largest self-publishing ventures in the world and “will provide Penguin with 'scalable' data and expertise on self-publishing,” according to Penguin CEO John Makinson. The acquisition builds on Penguin’s launch last year of Book Country, a self-publishing service. In February 2013, Penguin India launched Patridge, a new self-publishing imprint, in partnership with Author Solutions.
At the end of 2012, Pearson announced an investment of $89.5 million in Nook Media, which gives the publisher a 5% stake in the company. Pearson is the third investor along with Barnes & Noble, whose stake slipped to 78.2%, and Microsoft, which holds 16.8%.
In March 2013, Pearson’s employees in the English language teaching and language testing departments were told to expect layoffs. The entire ELT sales team at Pearson is affected. “The market is changing and to succeed we need to focus on a different set of capabilities. With this in mind, we have made the difficult decision to reorganise how we work, which will sadly mean the loss of a number of employees,” a Pearson spokesperson said. The announcement was made just a few days after Oxford University Press made public their consulting with ELT department staff.
Pearson’s push toward online educational services resulted in modest revenue growth for its North American education business, with services and digital learning revenues continuing to "grow rapidly" in 2012. In November 2012, North American Education acquired EmbanetCompass for 650 million USD. The company provides online learning solutions for universities. "The acquisition of EmbanetCompass extends Pearson's investment in two areas where we see great opportunities for growth and impact—online education and educational services," according to Will Ethridge, CEO of Pearson North America.
High-growth emerging markets such as China/Hong Kong, India, Africa, Central and Latin America, and the Middle East cover 1.24 million GBP of overall revenues.
Pearson’s efforts in digital learning, education services and emerging markets come together in India, where the company joined a public-private partnership with the Central Board of Secondary Education to set up a research center and develop a school-based evaluation system. Pearson’s role will extend to developing material for teacher training to promote clearer understanding of new policies in examination reform and evaluation, especially continuous and comprehensive evaluation.
For the first time in Pearson’s history the digital and services business account for half of corporate revenues, or 3 billion GBP. New chief executive John Fallon announces to accelerate the shift from print to digital. At the trade arm of Penguin, eBook revenues accounted for 17% of Penguin revenues worldwide in 2012, up from 12% in 2011, and almost 30% in the US (20% in 2011).
In May, Penguin agreed to pay 75 million USD to settle allegations brought in the class-action e-book price fixing case. Last year Pearson settled for 40 million USD with the Department of Justice. The settlement must be approved by the US court. Penguin will pay more than the other publishers accused in the case (Macmillan 20 million USD, Simon & Schuster 18 million USD, Hachette 32 million USD, and HarperCollins 20 million USD).The deal left Apple alone at the defense table for the long-awaited price-fixing trial in June. The alleged conspiring publishers were accused of “negotiations for the launch of the Apple iBookstore, and the near simultaneous switch to the agency model in 2010, which attorneys argue was coordinated by publishers and Apple in an effort to counter Amazon’s dominant position in the e-book business.”
Penguin UK CEO Tom Weldon expected at least 15% of Penguin's profit this year to come from its Penguin Ventures program, dedicated to exploring new IP opportunities in children's publishing: "It is a shift in business strategy about how and where we are going to make money in children's. In the past, we have been buying book format rights, now what we are doing is increasing in the children's area broader property rights, so we can do TV, animations, apps, games, and virtual products." The publisher is partnering with various companies beyond publishing, including BBC, Nickelodeon, and The Gap clothing store. "We make stories and create brands," said Penguin Children's managing director Francesca Dow, using Disney's approach to explain the publisher's focus on building "brand ecosystems"—"thinking beyond the book" to create brands with merchandise, television programmes, films and web/digital identities, as well as books. Additionally, the publisher said it will use the Penguin brand on "all teen books going forward."
Bestselling Authors & Titles:
In 2012, Penguin represented ninety Top Ten bestsellers in the U.K., an increase of 78 in 2011. Strong non-fiction titles came from Jamie Oliver (15 Minute Meals), Daniel Kahneman (Thinking, Fast and Slow), and the Dorling Kindersley's Mary Berry’s Complete Cookbook, which sold more than one million copies worldwiede.
In the US, 255 New York Times bestsellers were published, including No Easy Day, the autobiography of Navy Seal Mark Owen, Sylvia Day’s erotic fiction Bared to You, which also joined the top segment in the U.K., and new titles from veteran bestselling authors such as Ken Follett, Nora Roberts, Tom Clancy and Harlan Coben.
Pearson Education accounts for 75% of the earnings and 80% of operating profit in 2011; Penguin for 18% of revenues and 12% of profits; and the Financial Times for 7% of revenues and 8% of profits. Sixty percent of revenues were earned in North America in 2011 (along with 67% of profits), 23% of revenues (and 21% of profits) came from Europe, and 11% of revenues (and 6% of profits) from Asia. Overall revenues of 5.86 billion GBP in 2011 were up 6%, and operating profits were up 12% over 2010.
Return on investment was 9.1 %.
In 2011, Pearson made approximately 500 million GBP in organic investments, notably for new learning programs and technologies, to acquire new authors, and to venture into new markets.
Despite losing two of its largest customers, the U.S. book chain Borders, and the REDGroup in Australia and New Zealand, Penguin kept revenues at 2010 levels and gained market share.
The reshaping of Pearson continues to have a significant impact on financial results (the sale of of Interactive Data in July 2010, selling a 50% stake in FTSE International to the London Stock Exchange in December 2011).
Acquisitions, primarily in the education division, contributed 262 million GBP to sales and 39 million GBP to operating profits in 2011.
In July 2010, Pearson started a strategic partnership with the Brazilian Sistema Educacional Brasileiro (SEB), acquiring SEB’s textbook business.
In January 2012, Penguin bought a 45% stake in Companhia das Letras, one of the leading trade and literature publishers in Brazil.
The international education business is expected to show strong growth in 2012, with strong opportunities in China, SouthEast Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa--notably for digital learning, English language teaching and institutional services.
In U.S. educational operations, a focus was laid on technology services branded as LearningStudio (formerly known as eCollege), OpenClass, PowerSchool, the MyLabs, Data Solutions, Schoolnet, and Connections Education, and in 2011 the company’s focus on digital services in education helped “to perform ahead of our more traditional print publishing markets, which were adversely affected by state budget pressures and decline in college enrolments.“ (AR 2012)
Pearson’s “Wall Street English” expanded to China. A school service business was rolled out in India.
Digital businesses in 2011 contributed roughly 33% of Pearson’s sales, almost 2 billion GBP. Five years ago, they were 20%, or 720 million GBP. At the trade arm of Penguin, e-book revenues accounted for 12% of Penguin revenues worldwide in 2011, up from 6% in 2010, and a further significant increase is expected for 2012.