Why Grand Canyon Education's Shares Popped

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 for-profit educator Grand Canyon Education (Nasdaq: LOPE  ) were getting a gold star from investors today as they rose as much as 18% in intraday trading after the company released first-quarter results.

So what: In most cases, more students mean more profits for an education company, and it certainly meant that for Grand Canyon in the first quarter. Total enrollment increased nearly 9% from the first quarter of last year to 46,300. That helped drive a 15% gain in revenue and a blistering 52% increase in earnings per share. The respective revenue and EPS tallies of $117 million and $0.32 topped analysts' expectations.

Now what: Better than expected backwards-looking results are certainly a good thing, but investors tend to get even more excited about better than expected future results. For all of 2012, Grand Canyon's management bumped up its outlook. New guidance -- at the respective midpoints -- pegged revenue at $482 million and earnings per share at $1.27. Wall Street had been estimating EPS of $1.21 on revenue of $478 million.

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Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not have a financial interest in any of the companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting his CAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter @KoppTheFool or Facebook. The Fool's disclosure policy prefers dividends over a sharp stick in the eye.


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