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These two Canadian e-learning companies are buys

For investors looking to add some Canadian ed tech content to their portfolios, you might want to check out Docebo (Docebo Stock Quote, Charts, News, Analysts, Financials TSX:DCBO) and Thinkific Labs (Thinkific Labs Stock Quote, Charts, News, Analysts, Financials (TSX:THNC), both of which have received recent Buy ratings from analysts.

In pre-COVID times, educational tech and online learning had already become a force to be reckoned with, but add in a pandemic scenario which kept workers and students at home and on their laptops and you have the makings of a worldwide boom in e-learning. 

The global market in e-learning is expected to hit $350 billion by 2025 as companies and educational institutions look to up their digital game. Industry bellwether Chegg (Chegg Stock Quote, Charts, News, Analysts, Financials NYSE:CHGG) has been growing by leaps and bounds, closing out 2020 with revenue up 57 per cent compared to 2019 and hitting $644.3 million. (All figures in US dollars except where noted otherwise.)

The company, which has student educational aid services like Chegg Study and Chegg Writing along with its e-textbook business, said 2021 will end up even better, with revenue projected at between $805 and $815 million with adjusted EBITDA coming in between $295 million and $300 million.


“The transition to online and hybrid learning is inevitable and with the accelerated trends that we are seeing we have the confidence to raise our guidance for 2021,” said CEO Dan Rosensweig in a February press release.

Those who invested in Chegg early in the pandemic did well, with the stock doubling by summer of 2020, but CHGG hasn’t gained much ground since. For continued growth, you could instead look at Canadian cloud-based learning platform Docebo, which went from about C$17 in early February 2020 to as high as C$82 by the end of the year. And the stock hasn’t looked back, either, boasting a current year-to-date return of 30 per cent to reach a new high this week of C$106.

But there should be more where that came from, according to Eight Capital analyst Christian Sgro, who delivered a report to clients on Docebo on August 13. There, Sgro commented on Docebo’s latest quarter, which saw the company — which provides learning management systems for mid-sized to large enterprise clients — beat estimates with revenue of $25.6 million (up 76 per cent year-over-year) compared to Sgro’s call for $22.8 million and the consensus forecast of $23.1 million. 

“Docebo is executing on plan, with focused innovation and product leadership driving penetration of a large and expanding TAM globally,” Sgro wrote in his report. 

“There is little customer concentration, deal sizes are steadily increasing, and we view the growing OEM channel strategy as augmenting this ramp. We are encouraged by management’s confidence in the business and outlook and expect Docebo to maintain this impressive pace through the medium-term,” he said.

Sgro noted the company’s press into the Original Equipment Manufacturer space where the company recently announcing new OEM partners. 

“We expect the company is forming a template around OEM structure and support services which could lead to more partners joining at an accelerated pace,” Sgro said.

At the time of writing, Sgro raised his target price from C$80.00 to $110.00 while keeping his “Buy” rating, translating to a projected return of 28 per cent. Sgro forecasts full 2021 revenue growth of 60 per cent for DCBO, followed up by growth of 35 per cent for 2022.

For a different approach to the online education space, Thinkific Labs has set itself up as enabling “knowledge entrepreneurship,” much in the way that e-commerce company Shopify calls itself the champion of the small business community. Vancouver-based Thinkific promotes its platform as a way for course creators to build, market, sell and deliver their educational products to the world. 

The company closed on an C$160-million IPO in April, giving it an opening market value of C$1.25 billion. So far, the stock has been up and down, but National Bank Financial analyst Richard Tse sees a bright future ahead.

Thinkific delivered its second quarter 2021 financials in early August, which showed revenue double year-over-year to $9.1 million, slightly above Tse’s forecasted $8.9 million and driven by growth in paying customers and higher-than-expected Average Revenue per User of $107. 

Importantly, Tse sees a low of runway ahead for Thinkific, whose Payment solution is currently being tested while its App Store having launched in May. 

“In our view, this is early days for Thinkific and despite tough year over year comps due to the prior year tailwind from COVID, we see a name that’s tracking to the investment thesis laid out in our recent initiation of coverage report,” Tse said in a client update on August 11. 

“Thinkific is uniquely positioned in its course creator/learning market and with incremental growth drivers like Thinkific Payment, App Store and Partnership Networks (also in their early days), we see ample outsized growth in front of the name even without the benefit of COVID on their market,” Tse wrote.

Tse reiterated his “Outperform” rating and C$20.00 target, which at the time of publication represented a projected one-year return of 26.9 per cent.

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About The Author /

Jayson is a writer, researcher and educator with a PhD in political philosophy from the University of Ottawa. His interests range from bioethics and innovations in the health sciences to governance, social justice and the history of ideas.
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