Shares of 2U (NASDAQ:TWOU) climbed 39.7% in August, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, only partially recovering from its nearly 70% plunge in July. For perspective, nearly all of July's drop occurred on the final trading day of that month, after the online-education platform leader reported solid second-quarter results but drastically tempered expectations for its near-term growth plans.
2U did have some company-specific news (both good and concerning) to share last month, including its first online undergrad degree program at the University of London, as well as new fintech "boot camps" from its Trilogy subsidiary in partnership with Columbia Engineering and Rice University. The company also announced the retirement of its CFO of seven years, Catherine Graham.
Still, it wasn't terribly surprising to see some investors viewing July's steep drop as a buying opportunity in August.
Citigroup analyst Thomas Singlehurst, for one, even reinitiated coverage on 2U on Aug. 8, assigning a buy rating and a $20-per-share price target for a nearly 40% premium from 2U's trading price at the time. While Singlehurst acknowledged the last few months "have been brutal," he also argued 2U's long-term growth story remains "very significant" and that the market overreacted to its planned business shift.
Recall during 2U's second-quarter call, CEO Chip Paucek told investors the company would likely cut its new program launches by less than half over the next two years as it focuses on improving operating leverage and profitability. So barring an update in the coming weeks, investors will need to wait for 2U's upcoming investor day on Nov. 6, 2019, for more color on its growth plans. In the meantime, despite its rally last month, I suspect the stock will continue to trade well below this year's highs.