Shares of online education provider 2U Inc.(TWOU) - Get Report sank last fall after Citron Research's investing newsletter questioned its pipeline, valuation and business model. The stock has since come back to the levels before the skeptical report was released.
CEO Chip Paucek said he is looking forward, not back.
The Landover, Md., company lost 7 cents per share in its first quarter. Adjusted earnings came in at less than 1 cent, beating the consensus forecast for a loss of 4 cents per share. 2U posted revenue of $47.4 million in the period, topping the Wall Street estimate of $46.6 million.
Paucek said 2U expects full-year earnings to range from a loss of 18 cents per share to a loss of 21 cents per share, with sales between $199.7 million and $201.5 million. On the conference call, Paucek announced that the company expects to be adjusted EBITDA profitable for full-year 2016, ahead of schedule, primarily due to its full pipeline.
"We have six programs launching in 2016, nine in 2017 and we are looking at more than 12 in 2018," said Paucek. "There is increasing momentum in online education. The quality is improving and we are driving that with live instruction and smaller class sizes."
Regarding the attacks made by Citron that 2U is more of a "for-profit" college than a cloud-based education provider, Paucek pointed to the diplomas from the universities currently employing his technology.
"We represent universities like Yale, Georgetown and Northwestern," said Paucek. "These are the names on the degrees, not 2U."
As to the charge that 2U's stock is overpriced at almost eight times its trailing 12-month sales, Paucek points to the company's 37% revenue growth in its first quarter that it can grow into its valuation.
"We have 30% revenue growth for the foreseeable future," said Paucek. "Not many companies out there are able to match that."