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Strayer Education (STRA) Q1 Earnings Beat, Starts Fall Y/Y

Shares of Strayer Education, Inc. STRA declined 7.45% on May 4, after the education company’s sales fell short of market expectations.

First quarter 2016 adjusted earnings of $1.06 per share surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 98 cents by 8.16%. Adjusted earnings increased about 1% year over year as softer revenues were mostly offset by improved bad debt ratio and lower tax rate.

Total revenue of $111.2 million missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $114 million by 2.5%. In spite of an increase in total enrollment, revenues fell 1% from the comparable prior-year quarter due to lower revenue per student.

Revenue per student decreased 1% during the quarter owing to an unfavorable shift in mix to lower tuition undergraduates.

Enrollment Discussion

Strayer University’s total enrollment rose 0.4% to 41,029 students for the spring term driven by a 2% increase in continuing student enrollments, partially offset by a drop in new enrollment.

New enrollment declined 7% year over year due to a 13% decrease in enrollment of unaffiliated undergraduate student segment. However, new enrollment among affiliated students increased 20%.

Adjusted operating margin decreased 100 basis points (bps) to 16.6% due to soft revenues. Bad debt expense, as a percentage of revenues, was 2.8% in the first quarter, reflecting a year-over-year improvement of 30 bps owing to regular payments from existing students and improved collection from previously written-off accounts.

Other Updates

While the company expects stronger performance from national accounts and Strayer@Work in the near future, the unaffiliated students segment is expected to shrink to a smaller portion of future new student cohorts in the future.  

Strayer also informed that New York Code and Design Academy, acquired in Jan 2016, received state approvals in New York, Texas and Georgia. New York Code and Design Academy plans to offer its web and mobile app development boot camp at campuses in Austin, TX  and in Atlanta in early July. As people are increasingly using their mobiles and computers for everyday transactions, demand for professionals trained to develop web and mobile apps has been on the rise. With the acquisition of New York Code and Design Academy, Strayer Education can capitalize on this demand.

Other Financial Details

Strayer Education ended the quarter with cash and cash equivalents of $117.5 million, as of Mar 31, 2016, higher than $106.9 million, as of Dec 31, 2015. The company had $70 million of share repurchase authorization remaining, as of Mar 31, 2016.

Strayer Education carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

Stocks to Consider

Some better-ranked stocks in the education industry include New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. EDU, Bridgepoint Education, Inc. BPI and Capella Education Co. CPLA. While New Oriental Education & Technology Group sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Bridgepoint Education and Capella Education have a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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STRAYER EDUC (STRA): Free Stock Analysis Report
CAPELLA EDUCATN (CPLA): Free Stock Analysis Report
NEW ORIENTAL ED (EDU): Free Stock Analysis Report
BRIDGEPOINT EDU (BPI): Free Stock Analysis Report
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