Pearson have proposed a final dividend of 13.5p, an increase of 4%, which equates to a full year dividend of 19.5p.
Pearson plc are proposing a final dividend for 2019 of 13.5p bringing the total paid and payable in respect of 2019 to 19.5p. This final 2019 dividend which was approved by the Board in February 2020, is subject to approval at the forthcoming AGM and will be charged against 2020 profits. For 2019, the dividend is covered 3.0 times by adjusted earnings.
Other financial highlights include:
Underlying revenue flat year on year
Core grew 5% and Growth 4%, offset by 3% decline in North America.
Growth of 4% in the businesses excluding US Higher Education Courseware offset by declines in US Higher Education Courseware of 12%.
Adjusted operating profit up 6%
Adjusted operating profit of £581m for 2019 (2018: £546m).
Adjusted earnings per share of 57.8p (2018: 70.3p) reflecting an effective tax rate charge of 16.5% in 2019 compared to a credit of 5.2% in 2018.
Strong balance sheet
Closing net debt at 31 December 2019 of £1,016m (2018: £809m on post-IFRS 16 basis) resulting in net debt to adjusted EBITDA of 1.3x (post-IFRS 16).
Operating cash flow decreased by £95m with a conversion rate of 72% largely due to timing of disposals, incentive payments and working capital movements.
Sales decreased by 6%, or £260m, in headline terms. This was primarily due to portfolio changes reducing sales by £347m partially offset by currency movements increasing revenue by £97m.
Statutory operating profit was £275m (2018: £553m). The decrease is largely due to the reduced gains on disposals together with increased intangible and restructuring charges which more than offset the increase in adjusted operating profit.
Statutory EPS of 34.0p (2018: 75.6p) with the decrease due to a lower statutory operating profit, a lower tax benefit following one-off benefits in 2018 and higher net interest payable following the adoption of IFRS 16.
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