Will Bridgepoint Be Held Back a Year?
Once considered a safe investment sector during recession, the education space has been forced to wear a dunce cap repeatedly. Bridgepoint isn't the first school to fall on accreditation fear or failings. The whole industry took a turn for the worse when scandals over recruiting practices destroyed half the market capitalization of the industry.
Bridgepoint has lost about 33% of its market cap since Friday's close as a result of Western Association of Schools and Colleges' move to deny accreditation to Bridgepoint's Ashford University. Fortunately for Ashford and Bridgepoint's investors, Ashford is already accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
While Bridgepoint clearly has its homework cut out for it at the Ashford location for the next few years, the next exam is not until 2014 or 2015. That's plenty of time for Bridgepoint to make the changes needed to satisfy the ubber academia's requirements, which include improving student retention and full-time faculty.
Unfortunately, what captured Wall Street's attention Monday is fear of what may or may not happen in two or more years. That's a lifetime in the corporate world, and a fear that appears to be overblown based on other statements by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
WASC acknowledged efforts by Bridgepoint to address the issues and said more time is needed to assess their effectiveness.
Bridgepoint already was trading below the widely followed 200-day moving average, adding fuel to liquidation based on chart technicals.
The chart to watch for Bridgepoint is the weekly chart, where you can find this week's drop moving through the 90-week moving average and support at $18. Both these levels offer support and resistance. More importantly, both offer a history of reactions with price retracements that suggest Bridgepoint will once again trade above $18 soon.