July 24, 2020 / 6:38 AM / in 21 days

Pearson says sees signs of recovery in demand after first-half loss

LONDON (Reuters) - Pearson (PSON.L) has seen a rebound in demand since June and remains on track to hit its targets this year despite a loss in the first half, the British education company said on Friday.

Chairman Sidney Taurel also said the search for a replacement for CEO John Fallon, who is set to retire this year, was “well advanced”.

Pearson reported a loss of 23 million pounds for the first half to June 30 versus a profit of 144 million a year earlier.

“COVID-19 has had a major impact on trading, but we are encouraged by the improving trends and pick up in sales in June,” Fallon said.

Pearson said a long-term shift to online learning is accelerating.

One of the few companies to stick with its final payout to shareholders earlier this year, Pearson said it would pay an interim dividend of 6 pence, the same as last year.

The company cautioned that while it was on track to meet forecasts, risks remained with local lockdowns impacting schools.

Analysts forecast an annual adjusted operating profit of 332 million pounds on revenue of 3.46 billion, according to a company-compiled consensus.

Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Paul Sandle and Jason Neely

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