Market Takes Educate's Lunch Money

Tutoring company Educate (Nasdaq: EEEE  ) went public to mixed reviews on Thursday. Underwriters Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS  ) , Merrill Lynch (NYSE: MER  ) , and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) had originally priced the IPO in a range from $14 to $16 back in June, later dropping that range to $12 to $14. By the time the IPO actually took place, however, it was priced even lower -- $11 a stub.

While early buyers-in are congratulating themselves today on a quick 11% gain for one day's work, it's hard to call the IPO, the shares of which began trading at $12.20, a "success." Despite the initial 11% gain, Educate's stock subsequently slid back to $11.99 on an up day for the Nasdaq. So by the end of the day, the share price was still short of the bottom of its already-lowered initial price range.

Worse, for the company itself, Educate wound up leaving $6 million on the table in this deal (5 million shares x ($12.20 - $11.00)). While that may not seem like much in comparison to something like Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) IPO -- which handed over nearly $300 million to the first-day traders -- consider that $6 million is more than half of Educate's annual net profits. Insiders, most notably private-equity firm Apollo Advisors, which owns 85% of Educate's stock, lost out on an even bigger share of the first day's profits. Of the 15 million shares of Educate floated yesterday, only 5 million generated funds for the company to use in paying down its debt; the other 10 million were cashed out by insiders.

With luck, though, Educate will soon begin to earn back the cash that slipped through its fingers yesterday. Last year, Educate bought out the Sylvan Learning Centers that Laureate Education (Nasdaq: LAUR  ) (see "Sylvan Learning Systems") set up to tutor K-12 students on their schoolwork. With this business in hand, Educate is well positioned to capitalize on American parents' obsession with giving their progeny the best possible chance of getting into a "name" college (then a "name" law school, a "name" law firm, and if all goes well, ultimately, to get their name affixed to a football field somewhere). And it has additional growth prospects elsewhere as well, with a sister program to Sylvan, called "Schulerhilfe," operating 900 centers in Europe, and an online tutoring service called "eSylvan" that can do business essentially throughout the U.S.

Want to learn more about how the market gives birth to new public companies? Read these Foolish reports on other recent IPOs:

Fool contributorRich Smithowns no interest in any of the companies mentioned in this article.


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