Lower enrolments in US colleges hits Pearson

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Education publisher Pearson said it expected earnings to be at the bottom end of its range due to lower enrolments at some colleges in the United States and lower school text book purchases in some parts of South Africa.

Pearson said for 2015 earnings per share would come in at the lower end of a 70p to 75p range, a range which was lower than one forecast earlier this year, in part to take account of its sale of the Financial Times newspaper.

The decline from a 75p to 80p range forecast in February was also a result of the disposal of PowerSchool and its stake in The Economist Group as well as movements in exchange rates, Pearson said.

The disposals, the biggest of which was the $1.3bn FT sale in July, left Pearson focussed on education publishing, where it said ongoing “cyclical and policy-related factors” would help push EPS to the lower-end of guidance.

John Fallon, chief executive of Pearson, said: “The key cyclical and policy-related factors which have been hurting our markets for some years have yet to improve.”

In the U.S., its biggest market, Pearson said its market share gains were offset by fewer enrolments in Community Colleges, more returns and regulatory changes.

EPS of 70 pence per share for 2015 would still give Pearson its first rise in EPS since 2011.