Pearson profits, sales rise

Gross sales up 32% to $2.1 billion

LONDON — Pearson is continuing its upward march under chief exec Marjorie Scardino, announcing a 14.5% rise in operating profits for the first half of the year, ahead of predictions.

The British media group earned £126 million ($202 million) in the six month period, with gross sales up a buoyant 32% to $2.1 billion.

The company saw a pretax loss of $27.2 million after exceptional items, compared to a profit of $573 million last year. That reflects the huge upfront cost of taking over U.S. publisher Simon & Schuster, whose educational business earns all its profits in the second half of the year.

‘A great first half’

“We have had a great first half,” Scardino said. “Pearson Education, now half of our business, is right on track to meet our expectations. Across the company, we’re in shape to deliver on our sales, margins and cash targets.”

“We’ve made Pearson a 100% media company,” she noted, referring to the ongoing process of selling off outlying assets such as the Lazards bank. “With our rich content and powerful brands, we’re stepping up our investment to exploit the opportunities of the digital age.”

TV strong

Pearson TV, which mass produces soaps and gameshows around the world, saw sales expand 4% to $254 million. Operating profits climbed 22% to $52.8 million.

That reflected the strong performance of the division’s European production business and significantly reduced losses at the U.K.’s Channel 5, in which Pearson holds a 24% stake.

Pearson’s share of C5’s losses was $4.8 million for the half-year, as the web advances toward break-even more quickly than expected.

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