[Editor’s note: “7 Education Stocks to Buy for the Future of Academia” was previously published in July 2019. It has since been updated to include the most relevant information available.]
On the surface level, the thesis for buying education stocks appears remarkably straightforward. And for the most part, it is. An economic powerhouse, especially one geared toward innovation and technology, requires an educated populace to sustain growth. But just because an argument makes sense doesn’t necessarily translate to profitability.
Unfortunately, several investors found out the hard way that education stocks deliver great results in favorable circumstances. But when the environment becomes pressured, for-profit educational institutions end up getting held back a grade or two. In other words, these securities tend to be highly cyclical, and President Barrack Obama’s administration wasn’t particularly helpful.
Under former Obama, education stocks slipped badly. The White House at the time argued that community colleges offered a better deal for students. And with soaring tuition costs, and a general fear of finding equitable work, students avoided for-profit institutions.
But under President Donald Trump, the paradigm has shifted. Now, education-related investments represent excellent stocks to buy. Key officials in the Trump administration like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have profited from privately-run schools.
However, education-based businesses don’t just focus on traditional students. Several professionals have taken advantage of certification programs or trade schools to stay competitive in the current job market. That’s especially crucial right now.
Although labor remains on an uptick, a dearth of skilled workers impedes the market’s true potential. Therefore, even though many for-profit academic institutions have soared in recent years, greater upside is a viable possibility. After all, skilled workers don’t materialize out of thin air.
And with that, here are seven education stocks to buy:
Education Stocks to Buy: K12 (LRN)
I’m putting K12 (NYSE:LRN) front and center on my list of education stocks to buy not for its outright performance, which is quite impressive. (On a year-to-date basis, LRN stock has gained almost 13%.) Instead, I like K12 because I truly believe this organization represents the future of education.
Specializing in online learning, K12 is quite a departure from the traditional educational environment. In a typical public high school, for instance, students are crammed into crowded buildings. Even worse, the public-school pupils-to-teacher ratio has increased steadily since the 2008 financial crisis. That means even if students attend classes every day, they’re not necessarily learning effectively.
K12 puts this dynamic on its head, providing a one-to-one platform using the power of the internet. Therefore, wherever students are, that’s where the lessons take place. Although it breaks centuries of tradition, K12 offers the personalized lessons students need to succeed. And that’s why I trust LRN stock to continue pushing higher.
Bright Horizons Family Solutions (BFAM)
For parents, education isn’t just about putting their children through school. Instead, it’s a long-term investment that has a critical impact on a child’s ability to thrive in later adulthood. That’s why I’m particularly passionate about Bright Horizons Family Solutions (NYSE:BFAM). Leveraging modern technologies, Bright Horizons gives children core foundations that they’ll draw upon for life. As such, I think BFAM stock will remain relevant for decades.
Admittedly, that’s a bold statement. However, from my own personal experience, I find myself looking back and feeling gratitude for my parents’ investment in me. Even though I’m far removed from my early-education years, it was during that formative period where I developed the high work standards that I practice today. Bright Horizons provides that same opportunity, but on a much larger scale.
But despite all the positives surrounding BFAM stock, it does have one notable criticism. Shares have absolutely soared. Therefore, I’d wait a bit for a discount. But when that comes, BFAM is easily one of the top education stocks to buy.
Adtalem Global Education (ATGE)
Going up the age ladder, we come across Adtalem Global Education (NYSE:ATGE). A for-profit higher education institution, ATGE stock doesn’t always receive favorable press. It also doesn’t help matters that Adtalem’s former name was DeVry Education Group. Of course, DeVry has attracted negative attention for spending more on marketing than on actually instructing students. However, I think ATGE stock deserves a fair shake.
For one thing, the DeVry situation is in the past: Adtalem divested it to Cogswell Education LLC. But on a more important note, education stocks to buy have suffered under one-sided coverage. Sure, for-profit institutions of any industry are vulnerable to corruptive influence. However, much good can come from this business model.
As Forbes contributor Carrie Sheffield argued, for-profit schools “enable low-income and racial minority students, including many who are non-traditional, to gain practical, skills-based training that better equips them for the marketplace relative to many traditional academic paths.” I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Adtalem stresses the importance of minority representation in competitive academic fields. From a social advancement perspective, that’s a plus for ATGE stock.
Another selling point? ATGE stock is on discount compared to other stocks in the education industry. That makes it a risky but compelling opportunity.
Universal Technical Institute (UTI)
Out of the major education stocks to buy, Universal Technical Institute (NYSE:UTI) is one of the riskiest names. UTI stock has a long history of disappointing market performances; in fact, its lifetime chart is just one giant bearish trend. Thus, you should tread carefully here.
UTI’s inclusion on this list of education stocks to buy is because of how extraordinarily compelling it is. Consider the current higher-educational complex: Kids compete vigorously for the privilege of going to prestigious schools, thus incurring loads of debt often reaching six figures, all to sit in an air-conditioned cubicle typing up reports or whatever corporate nonsense they must do.
If you think about it, it’s truly insane.
For young people to achieve easier and quicker success, they should go blue-collar. Although it’s incredibly contrarian, the thinking process is also logical. We have an outright deflation when it comes to blue-collar professionals. If you get certified through UTI, you may never find yourself out of work again.
That right there is reason enough to think hard about UTI stock.
Career Education (CECO)
One of the main arguments supporting education stocks to buy is that criticism narrowly focuses on the for-profit sector. People have a tendency of looking at companies like Career Education (NASDAQ:CECO) and slamming them for their business model. It’s easy to construct a case that management cares more about the CECO stock price than its student body.
However, it’s unfair to paint education stocks with such a broad brush. Furthermore, not-for-profit institutions aren’t necessarily better just because they operate from a different platform. For instance, what good is it if students receive degrees in art history, but are unable to utilize modern technology?
Organizations like Career Education prevent such questions from coming up in the first place. Instead, this company focuses on curriculum and certifications that have direct applicability to the job market.
Of course, students have to pay tuition for this education. But they have the confidence knowing that they’re directing funds toward relevant knowledge and skills. Once more people recognize the value of for-profit education, CECO stock should continue on its long-term recovery path.
A common investment adage suggest that you should know the industry to which you are investing. Admittedly, under this framework, I don’t know much about for-profit education: I went the traditional route for my university degree. That said, I’m quite familiar with Chegg (NYSE:CHGG). If its usefulness is anything to go by, CHGG stock is one of the better education stocks to invest in.
Chegg started out as an educational tech company, specializing in physical and digital textbook rentals. Later, it evolved into a comprehensive umbrella, offering online tutoring, scholarship-finding platforms, internship matching, and college-application counseling.
But in my opinion, Chegg’s most useful function is its homework assistance. When you’re taking high-level courses like physics, detailed explanations are golden. Chegg provides just that, helping to fill the gaps from boring classroom lectures.
Although it’s somewhat of a lofty proposition, CHGG stock could very well break out of its current funk due to its importance to education. STEM subjects are crucial, but they also intimidate many students. Chegg provides an intuitive, go-at-your-own-pace platform that helps students overcome their apprehensions.
Grand Canyon Education (LOPE)
For investors seeking a values-based educational stock, you should look no further than Grand Canyon Education (NASDAQ:LOPE). As one of the largest non-profit Christian universities, LOPE stock isn’t just about teaching relevant courses. Instead, Grand Canyon instills core values that extend far beyond the classroom.
Indeed, every indicator suggests that LOPE stock will remain an influential force within the broader academic complex. Right now, the U.S. doesn’t just face economic or geopolitical pressures; we also have a moral crisis on our hands. If we just teach emerging generations capitalistic tools but without fundamental guidance, we can inadvertently create a dangerous environment.
Understandably, invoking religion is a touchy subject for many Americans.
However, I think we can all agree that Grand Canyon’s core tenants are universally wholesome principles: to create globally minded citizens who are also responsible leaders. As such, LOPE stock provides a values-based component that’s missing from other education stocks.
As of this writing, Josh Enomoto did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.