Baltimore-based Laureate Education earnings slide coming off tax cut boost

Laureate Education, the Baltimore-based operator of private colleges worldwide, reported Thursday that its earnings were down in 2018's fourth quarter from the tax cut-fueled results of a year earlier.

The company said it earned $71.6 million in the latest October-to-December period, down from $195.8 million a year earlier when it enjoyed one-time income tax benefits of $136 million. On a per share basis, earnings slid to 31 cents from 48 cents.

Fourth quarter revenue also slipped to $913.7 million from $951.7 million, which Laureate said reflected the weakening of foreign currencies relative to the dollar.

Enrollment in its roughly 25 schools, now mostly in Latin America, grew 1 percent last year to 874,800 students, including a 6 percent gain in new enrollments during the fourth quarter.

For the full year, Laureate reported it earned $370.1 million on $3.35 billion in revenue, compared with a $91.5 million profit on revenue to $3.39 billion in 2017.

"We are pleased to report strong performance for the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2018," Laureate CEO Eilif Serck-Hanssen said in a statement. "In 2018, we made significant progress against our strategic priorities, including the simplification of our portfolio to a core set of markets, where we have scale and a strong competitive position. These actions have also allowed us to significantly decrease our corporate debt and improve our margins."

During the year, Laureate sold or transferred schools in China, Cyprus, Germany, Italy and Morocco, as well as its Kendall College, a culinary and hospitality school in Chicago.

Serck-Hanssen said such actions "have been taken while maintaining a firm commitment to delivering high quality education for our students and strong outcomes for all of our stakeholders. We are well positioned heading into 2019."

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