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American Public Education (APEI) Down 17.5% Since Last Earnings Report: Can It Rebound?

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It has been about a month since the last earnings report for American Public Education (APEI - Free Report) . Shares have lost about 17.5% in that time frame, underperforming the S&P 500.

Will the recent negative trend continue leading up to its next earnings release, or is American Public Education due for a breakout? Before we dive into how investors and analysts have reacted as of late, let's take a quick look at its most recent earnings report in order to get a better handle on the important catalysts.

American Public Education Q3 Earnings & Revenues Beat

American Public Education, Inc. reported better-than-expected results in the third quarter of 2018, wherein both earnings and revenues beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate.

Earnings of 33 cents per share surpassed the consensus mark of 30 cents by 10%. Also, the reported figure increased 26% on a year-over-year basis.

Revenues and Enrollment

Total revenues of $73 million surpassed the consensus mark of $72.7 million by 0.5%. However, total revenues decreased 0.4% on a year-over-year basis. Higher contribution from Hondros College of Nursing (“HCN”) was partly offset by lower contribution from the American Public University System (“APUS”).

APEI primarily includes the operational activities at APUS, other corporate activities, and minority investments. Total revenues in the segment came in at $63.8 million, down 1.5% from a year ago. The fall was mainly due to lower enrollments and net course registrations by new students.

During the quarter, total net course registration at APUS marginally declined to 80,800. Net course registrations by new students also fell 3% year over year.

As of Sep 30, 2018, APUS student enrollment declined 3% from a year ago.

Revenues at HCN rose 8.9% to $9.1 million in the reported quarter owing to higher enrollments. Notably, total enrollment in HCN Programs grew 11% year over year to 1,980 students, however, new student enrollment fell 3%.

Operating Highlights

Total costs and expenses inched up 0.8% year over year to $66.1 million in the quarter. The rise in cost and expenses were primarily due to a rise in professional fees and stock-based compensation costs across its segments. The negative impact from the same was partially offset by a decline in instructional material costs and marketing support materials expense in the APEI segment.

General and administrative expenses, as a percentage of total revenues, grew 290 basis points during the quarter, mainly due to higher professional fees and compensation expense in APEI, along with bad debt expense in HCN, partially offset by lower bad debt costs in APEI.

Income from operations before interest income and income taxes decreased 9.4% to $6.9 million from $7.6 million in the prior-year quarter. However, pre-tax income amounted to $7.7 million, up 0.6% year over year.

Financials

As of Sep 30, 2018, total cash and cash equivalents were approximately $197.6 million compared with $179.2 million on Dec 31, 2017.

Capital expenditures were approximately $4.7 million in the first nine months of 2018, down from $6.5 million a year ago. Net cash provided by operating activities amounted to $25.6 million in the said period compared with $29.3 million a year ago.

Fourth-Quarter Guidance

Total revenues in the fourth quarter of 2018 are expected to decline in the range of 4-0% year over year. Earnings are anticipated in the range of 48-53 cents per share compared with 51 cents reported in the fourth quarter of 2017.

At APUS, net course registrations by new students are expected to decrease within 5-0% year over year. Total net course registrations are projected between a 4% decrease and a 1% increase from the prior-year level.

Moreover, at HCN, total student enrollment is likely to be flat with the year-ago quarter and new student enrollment is estimated to decline about 4%.

How Have Estimates Been Moving Since Then?

In the past month, investors have witnessed a downward trend in fresh estimates. The consensus estimate has shifted -8.24% due to these changes.

VGM Scores

Currently, American Public Education has a subpar Growth Score of D, however its Momentum Score is doing a lot better with a B. Following the exact same course, the stock was allocated a grade of B on the value side, putting it in the top 40% for this investment strategy.

Overall, the stock has an aggregate VGM Score of C. If you aren't focused on one strategy, this score is the one you should be interested in.

Outlook

Estimates have been broadly trending downward for the stock, and the magnitude of this revision indicates a downward shift. It's no surprise American Public Education has a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). We expect a below average return from the stock in the next few months.




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