Pearson PLC (NYSE: PSO) is a media and education company. The company delivers content in a range of formats and channels, including books, newspapers and online services. Pearson offers services and content, including test creation, administration and processing, and teacher development and school software.
Pearson posted double-digit profit growth in all businesses in 2010, led by a 54% increase at the FT Group, which publishes the Financial Times. Digital revenue accounts for 29% of the company’s sales, and emerging markets makes up 10%.
Pearson's strong earnings reflect the growing demand for educational services from emerging economies and in digital formats.
In 2010 Pearson sold its 61% stake in Interactive Data for $3.4 billion and has since used some of the proceeds to expand through acquisitions, focusing on technology and education. In April 2011, the company acquired Schoolnet. During 2010, Pearson acquired Melorio plc and Sistema Educacional Brasileiro.
Pearson has a growing presence in the world's fast-growing markets: language schools in China, Sistemas and Penguins in Brazil; universities in South Africa, and online tutoring in India.
Pearson is looking to use its recently enlarged education operations in Brazil and China as a template for expansion elsewhere in the world. Pearson plans to add 50 new English-language centers in China over the next few years to the 66 centers and schools already operating under the Wall Street English and Longman English brands.
Brazil has a population of around 203 million, making it the world's fifth most populous country after China, India, the U.S. and Indonesia. Pearson doubled its footprint in the country last year in July with the £326 million ($533.6 million) acquisition of Sistema Educacional Brasileiro's learnings systems business. Under the Sistema deal, Pearson acquired 1,000 private-school customers and 1,000 public-school customers in Brazil, and 100 municipalities.
Over the last year, a plethora of multi-purpose devices, tablets, and e-readers have come to market. There is now a real consumer demand for high-quality digital reader and learning devices, and Pearson has been highly involved in this digital content revolution.
At Penguin, for example, ebook sales tripled in 2010 (having increased four-fold in 2009) and now represent more than $1 in every $20 of Penguin’s total global sales.
At the Financial Times, digital subscribers reached 200,000 at the end of 2010, and also brought in more print subscribers. The demand for Pearson's combination of ebooks and digital learning platforms – eCollege and MyLabs – has been growing fast, but this past year that pace exploded.
Pearson is the largest education company in the world by revenue, with annual sales of $5.935 billion. Pearson's largest competitors in education are Apollo Group ($4.468bn in revenue), Benesse Education ($3.338bn in revenue), Kaplan Washington Post ($2,637bn in revenue), and McGraw-Hill ($2.388bn in revenue). Despite the dominance of a few companies in the education space, Pearson competes with many smaller education and information companies, including Blackboard (BBBB) and Scholastic (SCHL). Pearson's top publicly traded competitors include: