Why Strayer Shares Plummeted
Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
What: Shares of Strayer Education were getting sent to the principal's office this morning, falling as much as 23% after it announced a far-reaching restructuring plan in its earnings report.
So what: The for-profit educator actually beat earnings estimates with a per-share profit of $0.30 against estimates of just $0.05. Sales were roughly in line with expectations, falling 11.5%, to $110 million. Total enrollment fell 17%, while new student enrollment dropped 23%, indicating further attrition. What stole investors' attention, however, was the company's bold restructuring plan. Strayer said it would implement aggressive cost-cutting initiatives, reducing headcount by 20%, and closing 20 locations, which would affect 5% of the student body. The company also said it would reduce tuition for new undergraduate students by 20% starting January 1, 2014, which will negatively affect revenue per student.
Now what: The decision to drastically reduce tuition is an odd one. It's extremely rare in business to see a company slash prices across the board by such a large percentage. In its press release, Strayer said the move was to "further address the issue of college affordability." But despite sky-high prices, demand for a college education is by no means falling -- the only thing that's falling is demand for for-profit colleges. Strayer seems to understand this problem in the industry -- but the decision to drop tuition is vexing. The corresponding cost-cutting may ensure the company remains profitable, but this seems like some form of a white flag -- basically, an admission that future growth is going to be difficult, if not impossible.
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The article Why Strayer Shares Plummeted originally appeared on Fool.com.Fool contributor Jeremy Bowman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.