LONDON (Reuters) – Global education group Pearson reported a better than expected rebound in first-half profit and a 17% jump in underlying sales due to stronger demand for online learning, helping it to lift its interim dividend.
The British company reported adjusted operating profit of 127 million pounds ($177 million), ahead of a company compiled range of 100 million to 120 million pounds, and said it would increase its interim dividend by 5%. It reiterated its outlook.
“Pearson has made good strategic, operational and financial progress in the first half of 2021 leading to healthy revenue and profit growth in the period,” Chief Executive Andy Bird said. “This reflects a strong rebound from 2020 with encouraging momentum in the underlying business.”
Of its different divisions, Global Online Learning sales rose 25% due to strong demand for Virtual Schools enrolment in the United States, Global Assessment sales were up 34% following the cancellation of exams last year, and its U.S. Higher Education business fell by 2%.
Pearson has endured six years of tumultuous trading after it sold consumer publishing assets to focus purely on education, only to see students in the United States move to rent or download once expensive textbooks, hitting its profits.
It has started to show signs of recovery, however, and has appointed Bird, a former Disney executive, to build a direct-to-consumer online service.
Helped by a jump in demand for virtual learning during the pandemic, its shares are up 70% in the last nine months.
($1 = 0.7175 pounds)
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