What happened

Shares of 2U Inc. (TWOU -5.29%) in August, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, as investors digested another strong quarterly report and an encouraging slate of graduate program launches from the online education platform leader.

On the former, 2U stock initially declined around 6% on Aug. 3, 2018, after the company not only handily beat expectations with its second-quarter results but also raised its full-year guidance. As I wrote at the time, however, that move appeared to have more to do with short-term traders taking profits (the stock was up 60% over the previous year) than with investors picking apart 2U's financial performance.

Student working at a laptop in front of several large windows


So what

More specifically, 2U's second-quarter revenue increased 49.8% year over year to $97.4 million, which translated to an adjusted net loss of $10.3 million, or $0.19 per share. Note that with contracts lasting between 10 and 15 years on average, 2U absorbs the bulk of the cost of setting up new graduate programs in exchange for the majority of tuition revenue down the road -- hence its lack of profits in the near term.

In any case, both the top and bottom lines arrived comfortably above 2U's own guidance, which had called for an adjusted per-share loss of $0.22 to $0.21 on revenue of $95.1 million to $96.1 million.

What's more, as of its quarterly report, 2U had announced a total of eight new graduate programs in the previous three months, putting it on track to complete its initial target of 16 graduate program launches in 2019.

Now what

If that weren't enough, 2U announced less than two weeks later that it has not only increased that 2019 target by one to 17 programs, but also increased its 2020 target by two programs to 21. Furthermore, the company aims to launch a record 25 new graduate programs in 2021.

Assuming all goes as planned, that will mean 2U will have more than doubled its current portfolio to over 100 programs in the next three years -- though it still leaves a long way to go before it reaches its longer-term stateside target of 250.

Given its solid second-quarter results and with so much growth left to realize, it's not hard to see why the stock extended this year's gains by another 18.1% last month.