FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
• MARCH 2, 2010
Education Unit Helps Lift Pearson's Net Profit
By PAUL SONNE
Education and publishing company Pearson PLC reported a 46% jump in 2009 net profit to £425 million ($648 million) Monday, boosted by an education business that CEO Marjorie Scardino says could be helped further by U.S. President Barack Obama's push for common state standards in math and reading.
Pearson's North American education division, which comprises the company's largest business and includes Prentice Hall, reported £2.47 billion in sales for 2009, a 5% increase at constant exchange rates.
Overall, the company reported £5.62 billion in sales, up 4% at constant exchange rates from £4.81 billion last year.
The education division's growth could be boosted in the U.S. in the coming year as 48 states develop common core education standards for math and language arts as part of a voluntary state-led effort encouraged by the White House, Ms. Scardino said.
The implementation of core standards would reduce the burden Pearson faces in adapting materials to individual state requirements. It could also open up an opportunity for Pearson to win a new contract measuring the progress of that common-standards initiative. The degree to which Pearson will reap benefits depends on how many states ultimately opt into the common standards and how specific they are.
Ms. Scardino said Pearson could also benefit from $4.35 billion in "Race to the Top" grants the Obama administration will begin distributing to states this year for education innovation and reform. Data systems that measure student success, one of Pearson's key product areas, are an emphasis of the grant plan.