What happened

Shares of Grand Canyon Education (NASDAQ:LOPE), a provider of online post-secondary education services, jumped as much as 23.4% on Thursday. As of noon EST, the stock was up 21.4%.

The stock's gain followed Grand Canyon's fourth-quarter earnings release, which included better-than-expected top- and bottom-line results and strong guidance.

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So what

Grand Canyon reported revenue of $177.5 million, ahead of a consensus analyst estimate for revenue of $175 million. In the year-ago quarter, Grand Canyon's revenue was $163 million. Earnings per share for the period were $1.56, up from $1.41 in the year-ago quarter and easily beating analysts' average forecast of $1.42.

During Grand Canyon's earnings call, CEO Brian Mueller pointed to a tailwind in enrollment that helped the quarter's results. "During the fourth quarter of 2018, enrollment increased 7.8% to 97,400," said Mueller. "New working adult students attending [Grand Canyon University] online, grew in the low teens year over year, which exceeded expectations."

Now what

Grand Canyon said it estimates first-quarter 2019 revenue and earnings per share of $195.5 million and $1.49, respectively. On average, analysts are expecting revenue of $195.6 million and earnings per share of $1.40 for the period.

For the full year of 2019, Grand Canyon forecast revenue of about $776 million and earnings per share of $5.10. This exceeds analysts' average estimate for revenue of $765 million and earnings per share of $5.06.