A Curro campus. File picture: Independent Media

DURBAN – JSE-listed independent school operator Curro Holdings has declared a maiden dividend of 12 cents a share for the year to end December as the group reported a 23 percent increase in headline earnings from continuing operations to R248 million.  

Curro Holdings chairperson Santie Botha said: “We are pleased to announce that we have declared a maiden gross dividend of 12c a share from income reserves for the year to end December. The dividend amount, net of South African dividend tax of 20 percent, is 9.6c a share.” 

The group saw its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) increasing by 30 percent to R772m, up from R594m, while revenue was up by 19 percent to R2.50 billion, up from R2.10bn compared to last year. 

Headline earnings per share increased by 25 percent to 60.1c.

Chief executive Andries Greyling said: “The major improvement in the Ebitda margin to 25 percent from 23 percent is due to increased efficiencies, capacity utilisation and lower bad debt expenses.”

He added that organic as well as acquisitive growth contributed to more than 57 000 learners across 68 campuses attending a Curro school at the start of 2019. 

Curro currently has 164 schools, the number has increased by 12 schools compared to last year. 

During this reporting period Curro extended its education offering by acquiring new schools, which included Cooper College in Gauteng, Creston College in KZN and Baobab Primary in Botswana. 

In the year ahead, the group said its prospects to be concluded early in 2019 included two schools in the Free State, with a total of 2 100 learners and two select schools in Gauteng.  

“In addition, we are at this stage planning four Greenfield operations, primarily focussed on the expansion of our new models,” the group said.

Curro invested an amount of R1.7bn in the business.

“We plan to to invest up to R1.8bn in 2019. Our learners deserve the best and with that comes the responsibility to continue expanding our reach, improving our facilities, as well as offering a variety of relevant and innovative educational curriculum options,” Greyling said.   

The group boasts about an excellent track record in its results for Grade 12 learners. 

Curro Holdings’ IEB schools experienced a pass rate of 99.7 percent for its Grade 12 learners. 

“2018 was an exceptional year for Curro’s IEB schools, with results showing an increase in the number of students with university exemption, growing from 85 to 88 percent. 

“The number of A candidates also improved from 9.8 to 11.5 percent and candidates with an average higher than a C, rising from 70.3  to 73.2 percent,” Botha said.  

The Curro Holdings share price rose 9.35 percent on the JSE on Wednesday to close at R27.12.