Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Informa (Taylor and Francis, Routledge) academic publishing profits up for 2013: 35% profit margin

Informa.plc is the multinational conglomerate owner of scholarly-sounding brands "Taylor & Francis" and Routledge). The 2013 Informa annual report is now out.

Revenue has increased to £367 million in 2013 from £340 million in 2012 Adjusted operating profit increased by £4 million, to £130 million in 2013 from £126 million in 2012. There was a slight decrease in adjusted operating margin, from 37% in 2012 to 35% in 2013. (Informa. 2013, p. 5)

In U.S. dollars: Revenue has increased to $600 million US in 2013 from $560 million in 2012 Adjusted operating profit increased by $6 million, to $215 million in 2013 from £209 million in 2012.

What if the academic publishing arm of informa were to reduce its profit level to a very healthy profit rate of 20%, instead of 35%? The net profit for informa would have been $120 million US rather than $215 million US. The difference - $95 million - could fund 950 academic positions at an average salary of $100,000 per year. 


Informa (2013). Consolidated profit & loss account. 2013 final. Retrieved March 18, 2014 from http://www.informa.com/Documents/Investor%20Relations/Informa%202013%20FY%20results%20-%20Final.pdf

Elsevier STM publishing profits rise to 39%

Update Nov. 9, 2015: please note that publisher profits is not my research area. I am not an economist or financial analyst. Reed Elsevier and other publicly traded corporations are required to publish their financial results. If you are looking for an appropriate citation for Elsevier profits, please read and cite the Elsevier annual report. If you are directed here by a citation incorrectly identifying me as an expert in this area, please let the citing source know that they are in error. If you are interested in my actual research area, please see my current research blog sustainingknowledgecommons.org

The Reed Elsevier annual report was published in March. One highlight of interest in the area of scholarly publishing is the revenue and adjusted operating profit for the Scientific, Technical & Medical portion of the business.

STM 2013 revenue: £2,126 million STM 2013 adjusted operating profit: £826 million That's a profit margin of 39%!

Revenue is up 1% from 2012, while profit is up 6% from 2012 (Reed Elsevier 2014, p. 12). Elsevier's profit increased from £780 million in 2012 to £826 million in 2013. That's an increase in profit alone of £46 million, or $76 million in U.S. dollars.

As I've explained elsewhere (Morrison, 2013), the vast majority of revenue for scholarly journals comes from academic library budgets.

Surely universities have better things to do with this kind of money than further increasing the profits of already highly profitable publishers? For example: $76 million dollars in extra profits to Elsevier could fund 760 academic positions at a rate of $100,000 per year - and this wouldn't even touch Elsevier's previously high profit rate! $76 million dollars in extra profits to Elsevier could fund over 12,000 student research assistantships at a rate of $6,000 each.


Morrison, H. (2014). Economics of scholarly communication in transition. First Monday, [S.l.], may. 2013. ISSN 13960466. Available at: . Date accessed: 18 Mar. 2014. doi:10.5210/fm.v18i6.4370. 

Reed Elsevier (2014). 2013 Annual Report. Retrieved March 18, 2014 from http://www.reedelsevier.com/investorcentre/reports%202007/Documents/2013/reed_elsevier_ar_2013.pdf 

Currency conversion Converting to U.S. dollars, that's revenue of $3.5 billion and profit of $1.3 billion, based on the Bank of Canada's daily currency conversion service, summary: On 18 March 2014, 826.00 U.K. pound sterling(s) = 1,368.94 U.S. dollar(s), at an exchange rate of 1.6573 (using nominal rate). From: http://www.bankofcanada.ca/rates/exchange/daily-converter/

Update January 12, 2015: for my current research on the economic transition to open access, please see my research blog, Sustaining the Knowledge Commons.