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Pearson financials “encouraging” as it moves into NFTs

Pearson has released its 2022 half year results, sporting an adjusted operating profit that is up 22% to £160m.

Pearson wants to make some of its textbooks NFTs so it can "particpate in every" secondhand sale. Photo: iStock

The strong financial performance is reaffirming the company’s full year expectations

The strong financial performance saw an underlying sales growth of 6% as well as the operating profit, reaffirming the company’s full year expectations.

“Pearson has delivered another encouraging financial performance in the first half of the year,” said Pearson chief executive Andy Bird.

“We continue to make excellent strategic and operational progress, with momentum across the business,” he continued.

Despite this, however, Bird told reporters upon release of the interim report that to claw back some profit from secondhand sales of its textbooks, Pearson would begin to sell some as Non-Fungible Tokens.

He explained that when a textbook was resold “in the analogue world” Pearson would only participate in the first sale. This would change that.

“The move to digital helps diminish the secondary market, and technology like blockchain and NFTs allows us to participate in every sale of that particular item as it goes through its life,” Bird said.

It would allow Pearson to track the unique identifier of the textbook on the ledger – e.g., from “owner A to owner B to owner C”, Bird added.

“Technology like NFTs allows us to participate in every sale”

It would add to Pearson+, the company’s digital subscription service.

Broken down by product in terms of overall sales growth, Pearson’s US student assessment and UK & International qualifications saw its Assessment and Qualification branch go up 16%, citing exam timetable “normalisation after Covid disruption”.

While not as large of a rise, its Virtual Learning strand is up 3% in H1, looking at “robust retention” in its Virtual Schools – however, its OPM enrolments are reportedly weaker than expected.

Despite this, Bird insisted that the digital approach was “progressing well”.

“Pearson+ grew to 4.5m registered users, increasingly taking us direct to consumers,” he commented.

In contrary to the generally slow bounce back of the ELT sector, Pearson’s English Language Learning faction was up 22% in the six months to June 30, which was put down to “improved global mobility” driving growth in the well-known Pearson Test of English.

However, the only part of the business to suffer from a sales growth point-of-view was its higher education sect, down 4%, but this was “in line with expectations” due to autumn enrolment trends continuing into the spring.

Strategically, Pearson says it has used the last six months to accelerate its digital journey, building its digital learning ecosystem and user base.

It has completed its re-organisation of Pearson into five divisions with independent responsibility for their full cost base, which it says will enable more efficiency and cohesive working.

“The more integrated platform we are building across the company is creating efficiencies”

“The more integrated platform we are building across the company is creating efficiencies, underpinning our new guidance for accelerated margin improvement,” Bird added.

In terms of the full year performance, the report affirmed that the company was in a robust position financially, and could sustain more growth “despite macro uncertainties”.

The robust financials in the first half year follow its partnership with UCAS to develop Myriad English on the UCAS Myriad app in March, as well as acquiring language learning platform Mondly in April.

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