Laureate Education, Inc. (NASDAQ:LAUR) Q4 2018 Earnings Conference Call Transcript
Feb 28, 2019 • 08:30 am ET
Hello, and Welcome to the Fourth Quarter 2018 Laureate Education, Inc. Earnings Conference Call. My name is Brendon, and I'll be your operator for today. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. (Operator Instructions) Please note this conference is being recorded.
And I will now turn it over to Adam Morse. Adam, you may begin.
Thank you, operator. Hello, everyone, and thank you for joining us on today's call to discuss Laureate Education's fourth quarter and year end 2018 results and update on strategic priorities.
Joining me on the call today are Eilif Serck-Hanssen, Chief Executive Officer; Ricardo Berckemeyer, President and Chief Operating Officer; and JJ Charhon, Chief Financial Officer. Our earnings press release is available on the Investor Relations section of our website at laureate.net. We have also posted a supplementary presentation on the website, which we'll be referring to during today's call. The call is being webcast, and a complete recording will be available after the call.
I'd like to remind you that some of the information we're providing today, including, but not limited to, our financial and operational guidance, constitutes forward-looking statements within the meaning of applicable U.S. securities laws. Forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that may change at any time and, therefore, our actual results may differ materially from those we expected.
Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from our expectations are disclosed in our Annual Report on Form 10-K filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in this morning. In addition, all forward-looking statements are based on current expectations as of the date of this conference call, and we undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statements.
Additionally, non-GAAP measures that we discuss, including adjusted EBITDA and free cash flow, are also detailed and reconciled to their GAAP counterparts in our press release.
With that, let me turn the call over to Eilif.
Thank you, Adam, and thank you everyone on the line for joining us for today's earnings call. I am very pleased to report strong fourth quarter results with adjusted EBITDA and free cash flow well ahead of guidance. The fourth quarter built upon the favorable performance, we have had throughout 2018, and we closed out the year with some very impressive results.
Most importantly, we have done what we said we would do. We delivered on our commitments from last year's Investor Day. In 2018, we made significant progress against our key strategic priorities, including the simplification of our portfolio to core set of markets, where we have scale and strong competitive positions. These strategies have also allowed us to significantly decrease our corporate debt and improve our margins. The bold portfolio simplification actions have been taken, while maintaining a strong commitment to delivering high-quality education for students and to deliver strong outcomes to all our stakeholders.
In 2018, we continued to deliver strong margin expansion, up 90 basis points for the year on a comparable basis. This is an area, where