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What: Shares of Career Education Corp. (NASDAQ:CECO) were looking smarter today, gaining as much as 19% after its fourth-quarter earnings report beat expectations.
So what: It was not exactly a strong quarter for the for-profit educator, but it topped estimates on both the top and bottom lines, posting a per-share loss of $0.29 against the consensus of $0.49, while revenue slipped 18.5% to $247.1 million, ahead of expectations at $241.44 million. Both new-student and overall enrollment declined 16%, but the company did see improvements in some areas, with new-student enrollment growth in three of its schools and a 49% jump in its conversion rate of prospective students to new students.
Now what: CEO Scott Steffey said Career Education had made "solid operational progress in the turnaround of the company," adding that "early results in 2014 are encouraging." The stock nearly doubled last October after the company sold its European assets, and it seems to be making progress with its cost equation, having narrowed its adjusted loss from a year ago. Still, with double-digit enrollment declines and further losses expected, it's hard to find a reason to cheer Career Education.
Jeremy Bowman has no position in any stocks mentioned, and neither does The Motley Fool. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.