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Why Is American Public Education (APEI) Up 10.3% Since Last Earnings Report?

Zacks Equity Research
·3 min read

It has been about a month since the last earnings report for American Public Education (APEI). Shares have added about 10.3% in that time frame, outperforming the S&P 500.

Will the recent positive trend continue leading up to its next earnings release, or is American Public Education due for a pullback? Before we dive into how investors and analysts have reacted as of late, let's take a quick look at its most recent earnings report in order to get a better handle on the important catalysts.

American Public Q4 Earnings Meet Estimates

American Public Education, Inc. reported fourth-quarter 2019 results. While revenues topped analysts’ expectation, earnings met the same. However, both the metrics declined year over year due to lower contribution from its segments.

Delving Deeper

During the quarter under review, the company’s adjusted earnings met the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 37 cents per share. However, the reported figure decreased nearly 33% on a year-over-year basis.

Total revenues amounted to $74.4 million, which topped the consensus mark of $73.1 million by 1.8% but declined 3.3% from the year-ago period. Lower contribution from the Hondros College of Nursing (“HCN”) and APEI segments negatively impacted the results.

Total costs and expenses during the quarter increased 0.4% year over year.

Segment Discussion

APEI’s revenues of $66.5 million fell 0.5% from the year-ago period. Within the APEI segment, American Public University System’s (“APUS”) student enrollment as of Dec 31, 2019 declined 1% from the comparable year-ago period to 81,000. During the quarter, total net course registration inched up 1% from the year-ago quarter to 79,800. Net course registrations by new students also grew 1% from the prior-year quarter to 9,900.

At HCN, revenues decreased 21.7% year over year to $7.9 million owing to reduced enrollments. Total and new student enrollment in HCN also dropped 24% and 20% from the prior-year quarter to 1,600 and 530 students, respectively.

Since Jan 1, 2019, the APEI segment started charging HCN for the value of courses taken by employees at APUS. During the quarter, inter-segment elimination totaled $27 million.

Financials

As of Dec 31, 2019, the company had total cash and cash equivalents of $202.7 million compared with $212.1 million at the end of 2018. Capital expenditure totaled $7.3 million in 2019 compared with $9.4 million in the comparable year-ago period.

Cash flow from operations was $38.4 million in the quarter, up 13.2% from $44.2 million reported in the prior-year period.

During the reported quarter, the company repurchased 450,223 shares of common stock. On Dec 5, 2019, the board approved an additional authorization of $25 million shares. At 2019-end, it had $22 million shares remaining under the repurchase authorization.

First-Quarter 2020 Guidance Bleak

The company expects total revenues between 1% decline and 3% increase from a year ago. It anticipates earnings within 13-18 cents per share, indicating a significant decline from the year-ago reported figure of 32 cents.

Net course registrations at APUS are expected to increase 1% year over year. Registrations by new students are anticipated to be relatively flat with the year-ago quarter.

At HCN, total enrollment is likely to decrease 9% but new student enrollment is projected to increase 31% from the year-ago quarter.

How Have Estimates Been Moving Since Then?

Estimates review followed a downward path over the past two months.


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