For-Profit Education: A Vulnerable Industry?

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One of the rumored issues circulating the Occupy Wall Street protest has been that of student loans debt, which has continued to grow throughout the financial crisis. Although no formal poll or census has been done on the OWS crowd, the increasing debt burden can probably be credited for the presence of many dissatisfied protesters.

Indeed, the weight of student loans has been highlighted by studies that have shown some alarming figures. For one thing, the amount of money owed in federal student loans has surpassed $1 trillion, which is more than the total amount that Americans owe on their credit cards. College tuition fees have increased more than 400% since 1982, during which time medical care costs went up 200% but median family income increased by less than 150%.

Many have flocked to education as a means of empowerment in the economic slowdown, believing the ever-rising cost of tuition would be worth the well-paid job opportunities awaiting them. Of course, this version of the American dream has not panned out for many who still find themselves unemployed or underemployed.

Without the means to pay them off, an increasing number of Americans are defaulting on their student loans. That's bad news for schools mostly populated by students that use federal student loans to pay the tuition fees. And it implies a significant amount of political risk inherent to the revenues of these for-profit education companies whose stocks have soared in recent years.

The question now being asked: Is the for-profit education industry a bubble soon to pop?

To help you analyze the industry we have gathered the most relevant names in this field for you to do more company specific research on the topic. (Click here to access free, interactive tools to analyze these ideas)

1. Apollo Group (NAS: APOL) : Market cap of $6.08B. Provides educational programs and services at the undergraduate, master's, and doctoral levels. Share price as of 10/13 at $43.12. The stock has lost 10.89% over the last year.

2. Career Education (NAS: CECO) : Market cap of $1.26B. Provides educational services primarily in the United States. Share price as of 10/13 at $15.48. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 11.55% (equivalent to 10.6 days of average volume). The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 16.49% over the last week.

3. Capella Education (NAS: CPLA) : Market cap of $439.57M. Provides online post-secondary education services in the United States. Share price as of 10/13 at $29.07. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 11.78% (equivalent to 5.75 days of average volume). The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 10.53%.

4. DeVry (NYS: DV) : Market cap of $2.97B. Provides educational services worldwide. Share price as of 10/13 at $42.61. Might be undervalued at current levels, with a PEG ratio at 0.88, and P/FCF ratio at 11.58. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 10.36% over the last week.

5. Education Management (NAS: EDMC) : Market cap of $2.62B. Provides post-secondary education in North America. Share price as of 10/13 at $17.83. Might be undervalued at current levels, with a PEG ratio at 0.83, and P/FCF ratio at 8.22. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 27.85% over the last week.

6. ITT Educational Services (NYS: ESI) : Market cap of $1.77B. Offers postsecondary-degree programs in the U.S. that provide diplomas as well as associate's, bachelor's, and master's degrees. Share price as of 10/13 at $64.13. Might be undervalued at current levels, with a PEG ratio at 0.93, and P/FCF ratio at 3.38. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 34.42% (equivalent to 11.66 days of average volume). The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 5.8% over the last week.

7. Strayer Education (NAS: STRA) : Market cap of $1.06B. Provides various academic programs through traditional classrooms and Internet. Share price as of 10/13 at $89.48. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 18.42% (equivalent to 8.11 days of average volume). The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 11.35% over the last week.

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the stocks mentioned above. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.


Kapitall's Rebecca Lipman does not own any of the shares mentioned above. Data sourced from Finviz.

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