What happened

Shares of 2U (NASDAQ:TWOU) rose as much as 13% early Tuesday then settled to trade up 4.4% as of 3:00 p.m. after the online education platform specialist announced strong fourth-quarter 2018 results.

More specifically, 2U's quarterly revenue grew 32.8% year over year to $115.1 million, translating to adjusted net income of $13.7 million, or $0.23 per share. Both the top and bottom lines arrived well ahead of the midpoints of 2U's guidance provided in November, which called for revenue of $114.4 million to $115.3 million and adjusted earnings per share of $0.20 to $0.21.

Female student working on a laptop.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

So what

"The strength and resilience of 2U's business is clear from our 2018 fourth-quarter and full-year results, and reflects the continued expansion and increasing diversity of our degree and short course portfolios, both domestically and internationally," added 2U co-founder and CEO Chip Paucek.

To be sure, the company has had a busy several months. 2U announced two new online graduate degree programs with Tufts University School of Medicine in January then followed so far this month by unveiling two new short courses with the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, its first-ever graduate program in Latin America (launching this fall) with EGADE Business School at Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico, and plans for at least 10 new short courses at Syracuse University.

Now what

Looking ahead to the first quarter of 2019, 2U expects revenue of $121.5 million to $122.1 million, good for 32% year-over-year growth at the midpoint. That should translate to an adjusted net loss per share of $0.19 to $0.18. 

For the full year of 2019, 2U anticipates revenue of $546.6 million to $550.8 million, up 33.2% from 2018, with an adjusted net loss per share of $0.37 to $0.33. Most investors watching the stock were expecting 2019 revenue and a per-share loss near the lower end of 2U's new guidance ranges.

Put simply -- and even if the market's tempered reaction this afternoon may not seem to indicate as much -- this was another exceptional quarter from 2U.