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Laureate Education posts $38 million profit in fourth quarter

In Laureate Education Inc.'s first earnings report since going public on Feb. 1, the Baltimore-based company that owns and operates universities around the world reported a profit for last three months of 2016 after posting a loss in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Laureate earned $38 million for the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a $16 million loss during 2015's last three months, the company reported late Tuesday. The earnings translated to 27 cents per share.

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Laureate shares closed up 24 cents a share at $14.14 each in Nasdaq trading on Wednesday.

"Our performance reflects our track record of delivering positive outcomes to our students while prioritizing accessibility and internationality, key factors for our continued success," said Doug Becker, Laureate's founder, chairman and CEO, in the company's announcement.

Revenue edged up 2 percent to $1.18 million, compared with revenue of $1.15 million in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Becker said demand outweighs the supply of "quality" higher education in many parts of the world. Enrollments were up 2 percent as of Dec. 31.

"With projected growth in the middle-class population worldwide and limited government resources in many markets, our high-quality higher education institutions are well-positioned to meet this growing demand," he said in the announcement.

Enrollment growth was driven by strong performance in Latin American markets such as Peru, Mexico and elsewhere in Central America, but offset by lower enrollment growth in Brazil, the company said.

Laureate raised about $490 million in its initial public offering, selling 35 million shares to investors at a price of $14 each. The firm had registered to go public with the Securities and Exchange Commission in October 2015, but postponed the plans because of turbulent financial markets and scrutiny by regulators.

The company operates 70 institutions in 25 countries at campuses and online, with more than 1 million students enrolled.

Separately, Laureate announced the departure of Enderson Guimarães, its president and chief operating officer, and the promotion of Eilif Serck-Hanssen, the chief financial officer, to president and chief administrative officer, and Ricardo Berckemeyer, who heads the Latin America region for the company, to chief operating officer.

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

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