Education publisher Pearson reported higher-than-expected sales and profits for the past year as the group battles to win investor backing for its new direct-to-consumer strategy and relaunch a course in languishing action.
In a trading update released on Wednesday, Pearson said full-year sales rose 8% and forecast adjusted operating profit of £385million, up 33% from a year ago. and ahead of expectations.
Chief Executive Andy Bird, a former Disney executive hired in 2020, is under pressure to return the company to growth after years of disappointing returns. A new digital first, the direct-to-consumer strategy is central to its plan.
Pearson+, a subscription service that offers students access to the fully digitally enhanced Pearson Library for $14.99 a month, launched last year, but investors remain concerned that declining enrollment in colleges in the United States would undermine his efforts.
Pearson’s share price fell after its last trading update in October, despite a 10% rise in underlying revenue that showed it was on track to meet its targets.
On Wednesday, Pearson announced that the number of registered users on its digital platform had grown to 2.75 million, including 133,000 paid subscriptions.
The group’s shares rose 4.6% in early trading.
Its strongest sales growth last year was in its assessments business, which runs exams globally, and in English learning. Sales in higher education, including North American college courseware, fell, the company said.
“We made great progress in the fourth quarter and are delivering a strong full-year performance, with sales and earnings growth exceeding our original guidance,” Bird said. “We are well placed to build on this momentum over the coming year and look to the future with confidence.”
The company said it would provide guidance for 2022 when it reports annual results next month.