Why Bridgepoint's Shares Got Crushed

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 Bridgepoint Education (NYSE: BPI  ) were getting failing marks from investors today, as they fell as much as 34% in intraday trading after the company's Ashford University was denied accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

So what: WASC gave Ashford the accreditation stiff-arm because it said the school doesn't comply with multiple WASC standards including student retention, program review, and full-time faculty. The commission studying Ashford noted that the university has had new enrollment of 240,000 over the past five years compared with 128,000 dropouts -- a level of retention it described as "not acceptable." In addition, the commission stated that "historic spending patterns [show] relatively high funding levels for recruitment compared to resources to support academic quality and student success."

Now what: This is a big deal for Bridgepoint. Ashford University is currently accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, but because of the transition of the school's student body to largely online, HLC wants Ashford to demonstrate a "substantial presence" in its region. A loss of accreditation could affect the company's eligibility for federal student aid, which is a substantial portion of most for-profit colleges' revenue.

It's too early to call this a disaster for Bridgepoint. WASC has noted that the company has been addressing the issues with Ashford and said that it's just too early to measure the effectiveness of the company's measures. And while HLC wants to hear back from Bridgepoint by Dec. 1, its next evaluation isn't scheduled until 2014-2015. So there's still time for Bridgepoint management to right the ship here, but investors will want to keep a close eye on what goes on in the months ahead.

Want to keep up to date on Bridgepoint Education? Add it to your Watchlist.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Bridgepoint Education. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended writing puts on Bridgepoint Education. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer has no 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 on Facebook. The Fool's disclosure policy prefers dividends over a sharp stick in the eye.


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Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On July 09, 2012, at 7:11 PM, ravens9111 wrote:

    Too early to call it a disaster? What would you call it then?

  • Report this Comment On July 10, 2012, at 9:39 AM, Quaker08 wrote:

    I agree with you raven. This is a total disaster for BPI. I have been wondering why BPI % of short interest has been so high for the last several months. Now the answer is quite clear. 90% of their revenue is could be lost by next year. Complete and utter disaster.

  • Report this Comment On July 11, 2012, at 8:11 AM, kayakmastr wrote:

    What happen is not quite consistent with the Options Fools' prior analysis that said BPI difered from other troubled for profit institutions!

  • Report this Comment On July 12, 2012, at 10:45 AM, pedigreebull wrote:

    Agreed with all 3 of you. This is catastrophic and certainly don't recall warning bells in analysis!!!

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