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What: Shares of for-profit education company Strayer Education (NAS: STRA) got reprimanded by investors today as they bid shares down as much as 11% in intraday trading after the company announced fourth-quarter results.
So what: Let's go with the good news first. For the final quarter of the year, Strayer's results were better than expected. The company reported $2.30 in earnings per share on $156 million in revenue. Though both results were lower than the year before, Wall Street had expected revenue of $155 million and per-share profit of just $2.26.
Now what: Though the fourth quarter's numbers were a pleasant surprise, investors were less than thrilled about Strayer's signals about what might lie ahead. The decline in enrollment seems to be moderating, but the company still reported an 8% decrease in new student enrollments. For obvious reasons, fewer students portend lower results for an educator like Strayer. At the same time, management projected first-quarter earnings per share of between $2.07 and $2.09, well below the current average analyst estimate of $2.24.
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