WALL STREET JOURNAL: University of Phoenix’s Wings Get Clipped

Career College Central Summary:

  • Executives at Apollo Education Group Inc. would love to live their marketing slogan: “I am a Phoenix.”
  • While the once-soaring for-profit education giant isn’t in ashes, its business has shriveled. For example, degreed enrollment was most recently 227,400 students. While that is far more than at the largest traditional U.S. university, it is less than half Apollo’s own peak five years ago and down 13.5% from the first quarter of fiscal 2014.
  • A magical rebirth isn’t in the cards. Still, the company’s fiscal second-quarter results for the period ended February, due Wednesday, could provide a spark.
  • Recruiting and keeping students is the lifeblood of Apollo’s main University of Phoenix unit. Glitches in its online software led to disappointing retention last year. Not only should that be resolved, but Deutsche Bank estimates recruiting in the fiscal second quarter may have declined less than in prior ones, based on an analysis of Google keyword searching.
  • With the stock down 17% in the year to date, a financial result better than the anticipated loss of 18 cents a share, or just an improved enrollment trend, could produce at least a brief fillip in Apollo’s stock. Postearnings pops and drops have been commonplace over the past seven years: The stock has moved by more than 11%, on average, in the session following earnings.
  • Whatever happens on Wednesday, though, the longer-term trend isn’t encouraging.

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