Pearson has posted a 6% increase in sales – but seen operating profits drop by nearly a tenth.
In the six months to 30 June, the education giant achieved revenues of £2.6 billion, up from £2.4 billion during the same period last year. This was driven by a 10% revenue growth across its education business, from £1.8 billion in 2011 to £1.9 billion this year.
Growth was strongest in its international – that is, non-North American – division, where revenues grew 13%, from £639 million to £724 million.
Over the same period, though, adjusted operating profit fell to £188 million (2011: £208 million). Although most of the drop off came from the group's publishing businesses, the largest fall was in professional education, where profits fell 65% to £9 million (2011: £26 million).
In a statement, chief executive Marjorie Scardino admitted that trading in some parts of the company had been "tougher than expected".
But she added that the firm was "planning for structural change". "We’ve kept up the pace of transformation, and continued our shift towards digital and services businesses, which this year for the first time will yield the majority of Pearson’s revenues," she said.
"That strategy will enable us to deliver on our long-term goals of expanding our market opportunity, delivering consistently strong financial performance and helping all kinds of students in all kinds of places to learn.”
In today's statement Pearson said that it expected continued growth in its education business as the year goes on. It was particularly positive about the outlook of its international business, in which austerity in the developed world is offset by "significant opportunities in emerging markets".
The picture for its North American business was more mixed, with weak US state budgets and policy uncertainties resulting in only modest growth.
The professional education business, meanwhile, has been buffeted by policy changes and external funding pressures, and the firm predicts its profits will be "significantly lower than in 2011".