Pearson is the world’s leading learning company with 41,000 employees in 70 countries, and a strong consumer publishing arm with Penguin as the main brand, publishing over 4,000 fiction and non-fiction books each year, as well as the Financial Times newspaper (which is not included in this ranking).

Pearson has enjoyed continuous growth in recent years, with total revenues of 4.4 billion GBP in 2007 to 5.9 billion GBP in 2011, and with profits rising from 600 million GBP to 950 million GBP.

Pearson has also focused on expanding its business in fast-growing markets in China, India, Africa, and Latin America. Emerging markets generated $1 billion of revenue, accounting for 11% of total sales and 22% of employees in 2011.

Key company developments in 2011 & the first half of 2012


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.

Ownership, mergers & acquisition, internal organization:

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 good 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 about 33% of Pearson’s sales, or almost 2 billion GBP in total. Five years ago, they were 20%, or about 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.

Bestselling authors & titles:

In the U.S., Penguin published a record 254 New York Times bestsellers by big-name authors such as Tom Clancy, Patricia Cornwell, Ken Follett, Nora Roberts, and Clive Cussler, as well as new talent such as Deborah Harkness, Amor Towles, and Eleanor Brown. Kathryn Stockett’s The Help was the bestselling title across the US industry, selling five million copies in print and digital in its third year of publication. The Young Readers’ division had another strong year, achieving a high of 41 New York Times bestsellers.

Penguin UK published 78 top 10 bestsellers, 15 more than in 2010, including two of the top five industry titles with Jamie Oliver’s 30-Minute Meals and Dawn French’s A Tiny Bit Marvellous, and a robust performance by Penguin Children’s who were named Children’s Publisher of the Year in 2011.

Growth in developing markets was boosted by the strength of the direct marketing channel and strong publishing in India, including its first 100,000 copy bestseller (Ravinder Singh’s Can Love Happen Twice?).

Key points for analysis & conclusions:

Pearson's continually strong performance can be attributed to continuity in its strategy of organic growth and increased profitability, strong investments in digital strategy (both in its educational and in its trade divisions), and a bold expansion into emerging markets, notably in China, Brazil and India.

Earlier developments:

In 2010, Pearson announced its best year ever, with sales up 10% and profits increasing by 21%. At Penguin, sales were 1.05 billion GBP, up 5% on the previous year, with adjusted operating profit up 26% to 106 million GBP, with growth driven by an "outstanding" US performance, with a record number of bestsellers, increased market share and expansion in emerging digital platforms and formats.

In its presentation of 2010 results in February 2011, the company stated that Penguin "lead the bestseller lists" in the U.K. and increased its market share to 10%. According to Nielsen BookScan figures, Penguin had a 11.5% share of the market in 2010. Penguin e-book sales were 6% of total revenue and e-book sales were up 182% over 2009. Among the bestsellers identified were Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals, Stephen Fry's The Fry Chronicles, Kathryn Stockett's The Help and A History of the World in 100 Objects.

For Pearson Education, revenue was up 9% in 2010, with sales of 4,207 mGBP and an adjusted operating profit of 691 mGBP. Digital sales were up 24% to 1.6bn GBP, accounting for 29% of Pearson's total sales. Its North America Education division had a sales increase of 7% to 2.64 billion GBP and adjusted operating profit up 16% to 469 million GBP. Its International Education business had a sales increase of 19% to 1.23bn GBP with operating profit up 21% to 171m GBP.

Note: Figures are based on sales generated in calendar 2011 or—for corporations with a fiscal year—from fiscal 2011. Data are from publicly available sources and include sales of books, journals, and digital products. Because publishing data were unavailable, Pannini and Disney/Hyperion are excluded from the rankings. The listing and publisher profiles were compiled by international publishing consultant Rudiger Wischenbart under the aegis of Livres Hebdo.