One needs to read the report cards for private education specialists AdvTech and Curro very carefully before deciding which business will come out tops over the longer learning curve. A cursory scan of the latest interim performances might show Curro getting a B for improving the fortunes of its core schools business, while AdvTech might be accorded a C-minus and a "must try harder" scolding. The report card will show that Curro, which recently unbundled its tertiary interests in Stadio, managed a commendable operating margin of almost 27%. But the margin in AdvTech’s schools division was squeezed to just 16%. AdvTech’s schools division and Curro both grew 18% in the top line, which attests to a certain vibrancy in the still expanding sector — in spite of a woeful economic climate. Curro’s profit revived following a fairly mediocre 2017 financial year, with headline earnings up 25% to R139m for the six months to end-June. Certainly, 2017’s profit numbers did not justify the heady ea...

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