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Pearson reports Q4 rise in sales

Pearson shares rose on Wednesday after the group reported a rise in sales for the three months to the end of the year.

In the final quarter of the year, the group returned to sales growth as sales picked up 4% thanks to strong growth in the online learning business.

Pearson said it expects profits to come in at between £310m and £315m. For 2020 as a whole, sales declined by 10%.

The group commented in an update: “The challenging impact of COVID-19 has been felt most acutely across International and Global Assessment due to test centre and school closures, exam cancellations, reduced global mobility and international economic pressure on spending. It has accelerated demand for digital learning and performance in Global Online Learning has been strong. US Higher Education Courseware has performed in line with expectations, despite COVID-19.”

Global Online Learning sales grew 18% due to strong enrolments within virtual schools, however, Global Assessment sales fell by 14% as test centre closed during the lockdowns.

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Andy Bird, the Pearson chief executive said: “Despite facing significant uncertainty, our teams have been laser-focused on closing out 2020, enabling us to report sales and profit for 2020 in line with expectations. Uncertainty remains in the near term as a result of the ongoing pandemic, with further lockdowns, exam cancellations and reduced global mobility. However, I am excited about our future given the shift to online learning and the huge opportunity to help more people develop the skills they need.

“At the end of 2020, we made several key hires to accelerate our digital growth and, looking ahead, we start the year with momentum, pace and confidence. Our broader goal is to become a more consumer-focused company, targeting the incredible opportunity that exists to have a direct relationship with millions of lifelong learners. We look forward to sharing more details at our Preliminary Results in March.”

Pearson shares (LON: PSON) are trading +6.95% at 726,20 (1022GMT).