The investment case for private schools was bolstered this week when the government revealed that the pass rate for public schools was 75.8%, with only 28.3% of matriculants quali-fying for university entrance. By contrast, private schools boasted a 98.3% pass rate and 85.4% of their matriculants had university exemption.
The two JSE-listed education companies – Curro, which is partly owned by Jannie Mouton’s PSG, and Advtech, which owns the Crawford range of schools – have ridden the wave of dissatisfaction with government schools. Both have a serious war chest for investment, and plenty of confidence in their business model.
But which is a hotter investment prospect?
Curro has been all the rage in recent years. Its share price has shot up 120% in the past three years (compared to 49% gain of the wider JSE all share index) as it has opened low-cost private schools; it now has 41 schools and 37000 pupils.
Advtech, despite having been around longer, had looked pretty poor by comparison, seemingly out of ideas as it held on to its higher-fee Crawford and less expensive Trinity Colleges, without doing much to expand. Advtech’s stock reflect this lull: it was up only 46% over the past three years, less than the gains of the JSE over that time.
But with new CEO Leslie Maasdorp at the helm, the Advtech tortoise has put on a serious burst of a speed, snapping up schools and even expanding across the border.