Chalk­ing up a fine fu­ture

Financial Mail - - DIAMONDS & DOGS - @jamiecarr

Curro has achieved a re­mark­able amount in the 20 years in which it has been dish­ing up qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion at sen­si­ble price points, and it reaches its birth­day with the news that it is now serv­ing more than 50,000 pupils. This is a tidy lit­tle num­ber, but there’s plenty of head­room for growth given that the to­tal num­ber of vic­tims “creep­ing like a snail un­will­ingly to school” is 13-mil­lion. In the past four years pri­vate ed­u­ca­tion has risen from 2% to 6% of this to­tal, and af­ford­abil­ity is the only fac­tor slow­ing fur­ther ex­pan­sion.

While Curro’s full-fee schools of­fer class sizes of 25 for an av­er­age of R4,500 a month, it is ad­dress­ing the af­ford­abil­ity is­sue with its Academy range of schools in town­ships.

With the many strug­gles that con­tinue to char­ac­terise the gov­ern­mentschool sec­tor, the Curro price is one that par­ents will make con­sid­er­able ef­forts to pay no mat­ter how tough the eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion.

Curro is con­tin­u­ing to in­vest to ex­pand its ge­o­graphic reach, in line with its aim to have 200 schools on 80 cam­puses by 2020. In the im­me­di­ate fu­ture the com­pany is in­vest­ing R400m in six new cam­puses in Van­der­bi­jl­park and Eden­vale; Acad­e­mies in Park­dene, Protea Glen and Sa­vanna City; and a Curro Cas­tle at Bur­gundy Es­tate in Cape Town.

At the same time there are ex­pan­sion projects un­der way at ex­ist­ing cam­puses that will ac­count for about R700m, and Curro has con­tin­ued to make ac­qui­si­tions.

This has been a qual­ity op­er­a­tion from the start, and though the share price has drifted from its lofti­est val­u­a­tions of late, it’ll be back.

When the prob­lems are mount­ing up, the show can go dark at some speed

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