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London Markets: Community college enrollment slump sends Pearson shares skidding

Pearson shares were suffering their worst one-day performance in nearly two years as the publisher reported declining revenue from its higher education unit.

Pearson
PSON,
-12.24%

PSO,
+0.20%

shares fell 13% — its largest one-day decline since the 14% drop on Sept. 26, 2019 — after it said higher education underlying revenue fell 7% over nine months.

“While no market data for the full back to school period is available as yet, Pearson’s internal analysis indicates a decline in enrollments, particularly in community colleges, following a surge in COVID-19 infections in the key back to school period, and a strengthening of the U.S. labor market,” the company said.

Pearson also said it was hurt by the shift from print to digital, though it wasn’t as acute as in previous years.

Analysts at Citi point out the implied third-quarter decline from higher education was 23%.

The FTSE 100
UKX,
+0.24%

rose 0.2% in midday trade.

Heavily weighted banking giant HSBC Holdings
HSBA,
+1.84%

HSBC,
+0.59%

rose 2% as Bank of America lifted its rating to buy from neutral, as the broker hiked 2023 earnings estimates by 13%.  “While traditionally most sensitive to dollars, ring fencing has left HSBC most sensitive to the U.K., where rates are set to move soonest,” the BofA note said.

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