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2U (TWOU) Q4 Earnings & Revenues Surpass Estimates, Up Y/Y

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2U, Inc. TWOU reported fourth-quarter 2018 adjusted earnings of 23 cents per share that beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 3 cents. The figure also surged 64.3% year over year.

Revenues of $115.1 million increased 32.8% from the year-ago quarter and beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $114.9 million. Revenue growth was due to increase in number of users taking 2U’s graduate and short-term course globally.

Quarter Details

Graduate program full course equivalent enrolments in the reported quarter increased 28.1% year over year to $34.7 million. Graduate programs average revenues for full course equivalent enrolment increased 1.2% year over year to $2.8 million. Additionally, Graduate program 2018 revenues increased 28.8% year over year.

Moreover, management stated that while older programs are attracting users, new programs are starting to gain traction. 2U is benefiting from expanding programs across a number of geographies and verticals, per management.

Short course full course equivalent enrolments in the reported quarter increased 33.9% year over year to about $9 million. Short course average revenues for full course equivalent enrolment increased 13.4% year over year to about $2 million. Additionally, Short courses revenues in 2018 were $63.4 million, up 289% year over year.

2U currently has partnerships with 35 universities, delivering 67 graduate programs and more than 90 short courses. The company, which launched and delivered about 48 graduate programs at the end of 2018, expects the number to be more than double by 2021.

Moreover, in the first-quarter 2019, 2U partnered with Keypath Education. The partnership will allow it to work with small colleges an area where Keypath specializes. Additionally, the partnership will allow 2U to expand its programs and partners, which is a positive. 2U stated that while Keypath will provide the initial investment and services for each program, it will add incremental services to programs depending on the contract. This is expected to create an additional revenue stream for the company.

Further, the company’s recent partnership with Microsoft’s MSFT LinkedIn will allow its graduate program students to freely access LinkedIn Premium Career content.

In 2019, 2U will launch an MBA program with University College London and Tecnológico de Monterrey. This will be the company’s first International Graduate Programs.

Operating Details

Curriculum and teaching and servicing and support expenses increased 37.5% and 34.5% year over year to $6.63 million and $18.1 million respectively. Additionally, technology and content development and sales and marketing expenses increased 43% and 30% year over year to $18.4 million and $49 million respectively. Moreover, general and administrative expense increased 10.2% year over year to $19.7 million.

Adjusted EBITDA was $20.1 million, up 57.6% year over year and adjusted EBITDA margin expanded 270 basis points (bps) year over year to 17.4%

Segment profitability margin for programs that have been operating for more than four years in 2018 was 42%, up 3% points year over year. The increase was due to the number of marketing initiatives taken to attract new students.

Segment profitability margin for programs that have been operating between three to four years in 2018 was 25%, flat from the year-ago period.

2U operating income was $3.3 million in the reported quarter compared with 26K in the year-ago period. Operating margin expanded 280 bps year over year to 2.9%.

Balance Sheet & Cash Flow

2U exited the quarter with cash and cash equivalents of $449.8 million compared with $442.2 million as of Sep 30, 2018.

As of Dec 31, 2018, cash used in operating activities was $3.1 million as against cash flow from operations of $8.1 million in the year-ago period.

Guidance

First-Quarter 2019

Revenues are expected in the range of $121.5-$122.1 million. Non-GAAP loss per share is anticipated to be in the range of 18 to 19 cents. Adjusted EBITDA is expected to be in the range of negative $4.2 million to $4.6 million. The anticipated loss is due to increased marketing spend.

2019

Revenues are expected in the range of $546.6-$550.8 million. Non-GAAP loss per share is anticipated to be in the range of 33 to 37 cents. Adjusted EBITDA is expected to be in the range of $11.8 to $14.2 million.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

Currently, 2U carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Some better-ranked stocks in the broader technology sector include Square, Inc. SQ and Momo Inc. MOMO. Both the stocks carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Long-term earnings growth rate for Square and Momo is projected to be 25% and 24%, respectively.

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