Sylvan stock levels off after 16.8 percent drop


The stock of Sylvan Learning Systems Inc. of Columbia stabilized yesterday after a dizzying fall of 16.8 percent Tuesday that was triggered by rumors and the reassessment of its future earnings by stock analysts.

"There is no fundamental problem in our business," said B. Lee McGee, chief financial officer of the chain of 450 tutoring centers, which had sales of $39.6 million last year.

The company's stock dropped $5.25 a share, to $26, Tuesday. Yesterday, it dropped 18.75 cents, to close at $25.8125.

Since the July announcement that Sylvan would buy Drake Prometric L.P., a Minnesota-based computerized testing service, Sylvan's stock has soared 46.9 percent -- from $22.125 July 31 to $32.50 a share Sept. 21.

While the stock fall was sparked by a rumor, analysts revised their earnings estimates downward after Sylvan officials would not confirm higher estimates during a telephone conference on Tuesday.

The analysts also were told that the merger would be delayed until late November to give Sylvan more time to complete the technical matters. "It's strictly mechanical," Mr. McGee said.

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