Career Education Corporation (NASDAQ: CECO) and Laureate Education (NASDAQ:LAUR) are both small-cap consumer discretionary companies, but which is the better investment? We will contrast the two businesses based on the strength of their valuation, profitability, risk, analyst recommendations, institutional ownership, dividends and earnings.

Institutional and Insider Ownership

75.4% of Career Education Corporation shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 20.8% of Laureate Education shares are owned by institutional investors. 5.0% of Career Education Corporation shares are owned by insiders. Comparatively, 13.1% of Laureate Education shares are owned by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that endowments, large money managers and hedge funds believe a company is poised for long-term growth.

Earnings and Valuation

This table compares Career Education Corporation and Laureate Education’s top-line revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Career Education Corporation $631.21 million 1.18 $42.44 million ($0.36) -29.86
Laureate Education $4.24 billion 0.12 $648.36 million N/A N/A

Laureate Education has higher revenue and earnings than Career Education Corporation.

Profitability

This table compares Career Education Corporation and Laureate Education’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Career Education Corporation -3.82% 3.73% 2.35%
Laureate Education N/A N/A N/A

Analyst Recommendations

This is a breakdown of recent ratings and recommmendations for Career Education Corporation and Laureate Education, as provided by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Career Education Corporation 0 1 1 0 2.50
Laureate Education 0 3 10 0 2.77

Career Education Corporation presently has a consensus target price of $13.00, indicating a potential upside of 20.93%. Laureate Education has a consensus target price of $17.28, indicating a potential upside of 24.28%. Given Laureate Education’s stronger consensus rating and higher probable upside, analysts plainly believe Laureate Education is more favorable than Career Education Corporation.

Summary

Laureate Education beats Career Education Corporation on 7 of the 11 factors compared between the two stocks.

About Career Education Corporation

Career Education Corporation, through its colleges, institutions and universities, offers education to students in a range of career-oriented disciplines through online, on-ground and hybrid learning programs. The Company’s American InterContinental University (AIU) and Colorado Technical University (CTU) provide degree programs through the master’s or doctoral level as well as associate and bachelor’s levels. The Company operates through four segments: CTU, AIU, Culinary Arts and Transitional Group. Its University group consists of AIU and CTU, which serve students online with career-focused degree programs. Its Career Colleges Group consists of Culinary Arts and Transitional Group segments. The Culinary Arts segment includes Le Cordon Bleu institutions in North America (LCB), which offer hands-on educational programs in the career-oriented disciplines of culinary arts and patisserie and baking in the commercial-grade kitchens of Le Cordon Bleu.

About Laureate Education

Laureate Education, Inc. provides higher education programs and services to students through an international network of licensed universities and higher education institutions (institutions). The Company’s programs are provided through institutions that are campus-based and Internet-based, or through electronically distributed educational programs (online). It offers its educational services through six segments: Brazil; Mexico; Andean and Iberian; Central America and United States (U.S.) Campuses; Online and Partnerships; and Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific (EMEAA). Its institutions also offer an education that emphasizes professional-oriented fields of study with undergraduate and graduate degrees in a wide range of disciplines. As of June 30, 2017, the Company’s global network of 69 institutions comprised 57 institutions it owned or controlled, and an additional 12 institutions that it managed or with which it had other relationships.

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