Thursday, February 08, 2007

Thomson Learning: Let the Auction Begin

Now that the year end numbers are out of the way, expect to hear more frequent discussion about the sale of the Thomson Learning unit of Thomson. Full year results were summarized by Reuters and the Thomson web site has more detailed information. Once the Learning segment is sold it will be interesting to see where Thomson spends the expected $5.0billion proceeds. It just means more deals to come as the company already has free cash over $1.obillion. They should be able to splurge and we may see them to execute a rights issue if they find something especially expensive (Bloomberg for example).

The Learning segment has been classified under discontinued operations and the overview comments are as follows:
Thomson Learning accounted for the majority of results in Discontinued
operations, with revenues of $672 million in the fourth quarter and $2.4 billion
for the full year of 2006. Thomson Learning’s operating profit was $161
million in the fourth quarter and $383 million for the full year. The
majority of Learning’s results were generated by the higher education, careers
and library reference businesses as well as NETg and Prometric, which were
announced for sale in the fourth quarter of 2006.

In their executive presentation the detailed results for Learning show decent results as compared with industry leader Pearson. Top line gained 5% and Operating Profit of $359MM was 6% better than prior with a very slightly higher operating margin. Pearson which will report at the end of February has consistently grown a 1-2pts better than Thomson over the past five years and their operating margin has steadily improved over the same period. It will be interesting to see the comparison at the end of the month.

It would be a big surprise if Thomson Learning does not go to a private equity buyer; there has been a lot of interest thus far.

No comments: