Shares of online education company 2U closed down 57% on Friday, falling below $1 for most of the day, following a troubled forecast and indications that some universities are terminating their contracts.
2U, which helps companies offer digital programs to students, posted a net loss of $47.4 million in the third quarter. The adjusted loss of 15 cents per share was wider than the 13 cent loss analysts had expected, according to LSEG, formerly known as Refinitiv. For the full year, 2U now expects revenue of $965 million to $990 million, down from its previous forecast of $985 million to $990 million.
“These results did not meet our expectations as demand in our coding bootcamps was weaker and enrollment in some of our higher-priced programs continued to be depressed,” CEO Christopher Paucek said at the start of Thursday’s analyst conference. “We also know that we need to strengthen our balance sheet and are working diligently to do so.”
The bigger concern with the forecast is that it includes revenue paid to the company to stop using its programs. For example, 2U said the University of Southern California was paying $40 million to end the relationship.
“We thank USC for the role they have played in building our company,” Paucek said on the call. “Ultimately, the programs we agreed to phase out no longer align with our platform strategy.”
Analysts at Cantor Fitzgerald lowered their rating on the stock to “neutral” from “overweight,” calling 2U’s moves a “fire sale to stay afloat.”
The company’s earnings report showed that it relied heavily on one-time payments from universities and that its “core degree program business was deteriorating,” the analysts wrote. The company also laid off 12% of its employees during the quarter and has a worrisome debt load, with nearly $880 million in long-term debt.
2U’s path to profitability was based on the idea that more deals on the platform would lead to “significant profits,” Cantor analysts wrote.
2U did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
2U shares debuted on the Nasdaq in 2014. The stock peaked at over $98 per share in May 2018, giving the company a market cap of over $5 billion. As of Friday, the company’s value had fallen to $77 million.
If a stock on the Nasdaq trades below $1 for 30 consecutive days, the exchange can begin the delisting process. Some companies perform a reverse stock split to increase the stock price above $1. However, this does not help solve their financial problems.
Scooter company Bird was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange in September after failing to keep its market capitalization above $15 million for 30 days. That came after a 1-for-25 reverse split to push the stock above $1. Office-sharing company WeWork filed for bankruptcy this week after announcing a 1-for40 reverse split in August to try to retain its NYSE listing.
2U shares fell 57% to 1.03 US cents at Friday’s close.
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