JSE-listed independent school operator, Curro Holdings, on Tuesday (25 February) reported an 18% rise in revenue for the year ended December 2019 to R2.94 billion.
Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased by 11% to R693 million, and headline earnings per share increased by 2% to 61.1 cents per share, from the 60.1 cents per share in the prior corresponding period.
Learner numbers rose by 12% from 51,305 to 57,597 and continues to grow, it said.
From end 2019 to the start of the 2020 period, learner numbers grew by 9% from 57,597 to 62,689. Strong growth was achieved in high school grades, with a significant rise in Grade 8 learner numbers, especially in Curro Academy schools.
Curro said that the number of campuses has grown to 70, with schools under its management at 166.
Recurring headline earnings and recurring headline earnings per share decreased by 15% from R248 million to R212 million and 60,1 cents to 51,0 cents respectively over the same period.
“Future growth prospects are underpinned by robust cash flow and pleasing growth in learner numbers, which was achieved in arguably the most challenging times,” said Andries Greyling, chief executive officer of Curro Holdings.
“I am positive that by focusing on our efficiencies, increasing occupation of existing school capacity and lowering capital investment, we will improve our profitability going forward,” he said.
“Over the past three years our greenfield developments have seen excellent growth and I’m looking forward to further progression in these projects, which are set to benefit all learners from diverse economic backgrounds,” said Greyling.
“After a year of consolidation, Curro is poised for growth as we consistently offer high quality education and innovative education models for parents with children of all ages. We are optimistic about the future growth prospects of Curro and the continued demand for quality, independent school education in southern Africa.”
Curro said it plans to invest approximately R1 billion in further growth and development projects in 2020.
“Although Curro has just undergone a process of consolidation we’re ready to expand our current offering in a strategic manner. We will selectively take advantage of acquisitions and high potential greenfield opportunities, especially in the Curro Academy and DigiEd segments.”
Curro said that it is the board’s policy to pay 20% of recurring headline earnings as an annual dividend. Thus the dividend decreased by 15% to 10.2 cents per share, from the 12.0 cents per share in the prior corresponding period.