American Public Education (Nasdaq: APEI) reported earnings on Feb. 28. Here are the numbers you need to know.

The 10-second takeaway
For the quarter ended Dec. 31 (Q4), American Public Education beat slightly on revenues and beat expectations on earnings per share.

Compared to the prior-year quarter, revenue grew. Non-GAAP earnings per share expanded. GAAP earnings per share increased slightly.

Gross margins expanded, operating margins shrank, net margins dropped.

Revenue details
American Public Education logged revenue of $86.0 million. The 11 analysts polled by S&P Capital IQ hoped for sales of $84.9 million on the same basis. GAAP reported sales were 14% higher than the prior-year quarter's $75.7 million.

Source: S&P Capital IQ. Quarterly periods. Dollar amounts in millions. Non-GAAP figures may vary to maintain comparability with estimates.

EPS details
EPS came in at $0.74. The 14 earnings estimates compiled by S&P Capital IQ averaged $0.67 per share. Non-GAAP EPS of $0.74 for Q4 were 4.2% higher than the prior-year quarter's $0.71 per share. GAAP EPS of $0.73 for Q4 were 2.8% higher than the prior-year quarter's $0.71 per share.

Source: S&P Capital IQ. Quarterly periods. Non-GAAP figures may vary to maintain comparability with estimates.

Margin details
For the quarter, gross margin was 65.5%, 10 basis points better than the prior-year quarter. Operating margin was 24.9%, 130 basis points worse than the prior-year quarter. Net margin was 15.3%, 190 basis points worse than the prior-year quarter.

Looking ahead
Next quarter's average estimate for revenue is $85.3 million. On the bottom line, the average EPS estimate is $0.60.

Next year's average estimate for revenue is $350.3 million. The average EPS estimate is $2.64.

Investor sentiment
The stock has a four-star rating (out of five) at Motley Fool CAPS, with 256 members out of 269 rating the stock outperform, and 13 members rating it underperform. Among 99 CAPS All-Star picks (recommendations by the highest-ranked CAPS members), 95 give American Public Education a green thumbs-up, and four give it a red thumbs-down.

Of Wall Street recommendations tracked by S&P Capital IQ, the average opinion on American Public Education is outperform, with an average price target of $40.27.

Looking for alternatives to American Public Education? It takes more than great companies to build a fortune for the future. Learn the basic financial habits of millionaires next door and get focused stock ideas in our free report, "3 Stocks That Will Help You Retire Rich." Click here for instant access to this free report.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.