There's nothing fishy about information from Pearson, home of salmon-colored newspaper The Financial Times. The media giant operates through three main business groups: Pearson Education, Penguin Group, and FT Group. Pearson Education, its largest segment, is the world's top educational publisher of textbooks and related material. Pearson provides financial information and business news through FT Group, which includes The Financial Times (known locally as the "Pink 'Un"), the related FT.com website, and the 50%-owned The Economist (which it is selling). Penguin Group publishes more than 4,000 fiction, nonfiction, and reference titles each year through imprints such as Putnam, Viking, and Puffin.
One of the most famous brands in book publishing, Penguin Group accounts for the nearly 20% of Pearson's revenues. Education, however, is the company's bread and butter, accounting for about 75% its business. Its FT Group accounts for the remainder of revenues.
Though it operates in more than 70 countries around the world, Pearson's largest markets are the North America (60% of sales) and the UK (15% of sales). Pearson Education operates through three worldwide segments: North American Education, International Education, and Professional.
Pearson reported an increase in revenues and profits in 2011 versus 2010, thanks to e-book sales at Penguin more than doubling. The company also reported that FT digital subscriptions were up 29% compared to the prior year. Its financial results were additionally boosted by the £412 million profit on the sale of its 50% stake in FTSE Group to the London Stock Exchange.
On the education front, the company is working to reduce its reliance on its core US and UK markets. To this end, Pearson is increasing its operations in international markets via selected acquisitions. In 2011 it acquired China's Global Education & Technology Group for $155 million in cash. Global Education operates about 450 English-language test prep centers in 60 Chinese cities.
Meanwhile, Pearson's Penguin division in 2012 announced plans to acquire Author Solutions from Bertram Capital for $116 million. Penguin made the purchase to expand in self-publishing, a fast growing segment of the consumer books market. It is also gaining Author Solutions' capabilities in online marketing, consumer analytics, professional services, and user-generated content.
At its FT Group, Pearson sold its half of FTSE to the London Stock Exchange (LSE) for £450 million pounds ($702 million) in cash in 2011. LSE made the purchase in order to diversify its business and create new growth opportunities for its listed derivatives trading business, while the move represents Pearson's efforts at moving focus away from data generation.