Why Career Education Shares Dropped

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What: Shares of Career Education (NASDAQ: CECO  ) were dropping out today, falling 19% after a disappointing earnings report.

So what: The for-profit educator saw a steeper loss in its third quarter, as overall enrollment fell 22%, and new student signups dropped 18%. Career Education's adjusted per-share loss from continuing operations came in at $0.54, $0.01 worse than expectations, while revenue dropped 21%, to $251.3 million, worse than estimates at $255.5 million. CEO Scott Steffey said that enrollments fell just 10% at continuing schools, and that the company plans to reduce expenses by $175 million this year. "While much work remains to be done to continue stemming declines and return to growth, I'm pleased with the progress made to date."

Now what: Career Education shares had nearly doubled after the company said it would sell its European assets for $305 million, about the equivalent of the company's market cap before the spike. Today's stock tumble may be a reality check, however, as it's clear that operations are still eating away at the company's value. While the new cash cushion helps, it seems like it will be several quarters before Career Education sees a profit, and with the structural weakness in the for-profit education industry, that may not ever happen. I'd expect shares to continue to fall.

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