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Why Shares of Career Education Corp. Plummeted

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 Career Education Corp.  (NASDAQ: CECO  ) were getting sent to detention today, falling as much as 30% after a forgettable first-quarter earnings report.

So what: The for-profit educator saw its enrollment decline as total students fell 12% to 55,700, while the number of new students dropped 6% to 16,030. As a result, its net loss per share from continuing operations expanded from $0.30 a year ago to $0.71, worse than estimates of a $0.42-per-share loss. Revenue dropped 14.6% to $243.1 million, also missing the consensus at $261.9 million. 

Now what: Despite the underwhelming performance, CEO Scott Steffey said the year was off to a "good start" and said management was focused on efforts to transform the company. There were also positives in the quarter including a sequential improvement in the enrollment decline, and a 32% improvement in its new student conversion rate. Still, the big misses on top and bottom lines highlight how far Career Education Corp. is from profitability. Pay attention to new student enrollment going forward as that figure could soon turn positive, which would help drive a turnaround for the company.

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Jeremy Bowman

Fool since 2011. I write about consumer goods, the big picture, and whatever else piques my interest. Follow me on Twitter to see my latest articles, and for commentary on hot topics in retail and the broad market.

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Related Tickers

9/2/2015 3:59 PM
CECO $3.59 Down -0.02 -0.55%
Career Education C… CAPS Rating: **