Independent school network Curro on Wednesday (19 August) reported a 7% rise in revenue for the six months ended June 2020 to R1.59 billion, while increasing student numbers over the period.
Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased by 12% to R466 million, while recurring headline earnings increased by 9% to R167 million.
Headline earnings per share (HEPS) decreased by 23% to 38.7 cents per share, from the 50 cents per share in the prior corresponding period.
Earnings per share (EPS) decreased by 60% to 22.5 cents per share, from the 56.9 cents per share in the prior corresponding period.
Curro said that the previous period EPS included a bargain purchase profit of R28 million, and the current period includes an impairment of R67 million which results in the key difference between HEPS and EPS.
No interim dividend was declared for the period under review.
The group said that learner numbers increased 5% to 57,173 pupils.
Despite tough and uncertain times brought about by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, Curro said that operations and results for the six months were satisfactory under the circumstances.
For the first quarter – three months until the end of March 2020 – Curro traded above expectations in terms of learner number growth and fee collections.
Learner numbers were 9% higher (from December 2019 to January 2020) and fee collections 24% higher compared to the same period in the prior year.
Curro said that the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic led to the temporary closure of schools from 18 March 2020 until 1 June 2020, when a phased return of learners commenced.
During the lockdown schooling was facilitated through remote learning, predominantly using the Microsoft Teams platform. “While learner numbers for primary and high schools were negatively impacted, nursery schools, in particular, saw a material decline in learner numbers as it is not a compulsory phase of schooling,” it said.
Curro opened Curro Online in mid-June to make education more accessible to learners in southern Africa, and also as a response to Covid-19. The online school provides remote teaching and learning for learners from Grade 4 to Grade 9.
As at the end of July 2020, Curro said it had more than 400 learners enrolled in its online offering.
Looking ahead, Curro said that conservative capital management remains at the order of the day and there are no greenfield projects planned for this year. “For the period under review R278 million was invested on completion of projects already commenced in 2019 and replacement of moveable assets,” it said.
“The group plans to invest a further R600 million to create capacity in schools (mainly 2019 greenfield schools) where growth continues and the acquisition of land that was committed to before the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic.”