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Learning From Home: ASX companies turning the COVID-19 crisis into opportunity

While the coronavirus has wreaked havoc, sectors such as education have recognised learning from home is an opportunity amidst this crisis.

Many companies have floundered in the face of the virus and have been forced to pause their operations indefinitely, implement drastic cost-cutting measures and stand down thousands of loyal staff.

However, it's not all doom and gloom. Some sectors have seen a rise in their stocks as people are forced to shift the way they navigate their daily home and work life.

The online learning industry has seen increased demand for their services as the public practices social distancing and seek education outside of traditional classrooms.

According to the NBC, 118,000 schools in the U.S. closed by March 22. This means nearly 54 million students across 45 states have been sent home. Globally, nearly 300,000 million students have been affected by the pandemic.

While this a massive figure that may come with detrimental impacts, there's no denying the opportunities this crisis presents.

Family Zone (ASX:FZO)

About the company: Family Zone (FZO) is a leading global provider of a patented cyber safety ecosystem. Its solutions facilitate digital collaboration between schools, parents and online safety educators.

Family Zone undoubtedly experienced increasing growth late last year, particularly in its the final quarter. During the quarter, the learning provider secured 183 new school clients and tallied up its student licenses to 615,000.

What they're doing: On March 12, when U.S.-based school districts were starting to consider flexible learning, Family Zone's U.S. sales team reported achieving A$2 million of annual contracted revenue for the month.

When investors questioned Family Zone's financial position amid COVID-19, the company dangled its Classwize tool, assuring shareholders it'll be fine.

Classwize allows teachers to seamlessly manage large, virtual classes. The tool supports Chromebooks, Windows and Apple Macbooks and is being offered for free until the end of June 2020.

According to Managing Director Tim Levy, within two days of its announcement, the company received inquiries from 40 schools in New Zealand and another 100 in Australia.

In its March 2020 quarterly, Family Zone reported welcoming 620 new schools with 308,000 new students to its platform - an 83 per cent year-on-year rise in schools and 70 per cent rise in students.

With the shift to online learning and no sign yet of when things will return back to normal, it's safe to say Family Zone is set to hit a few more records.

TALi Digital (ASX:TD1)

About the company: TALi Digital (TD1), formerly known as Novita Healthcare (NHL), is an Australian medical technology company. Its main platform, TALi Train, is a world-first software which is designed to improve cognitive skills in early childhood.

The software primarily helps children between the ages of three and eight improve their focus, avoid distractions and fidgeting, improve learning, and prevent impulsive behaviour.

What they're doing: In the coronavirus' infancy, TALi announced achieving Google for Education Partner status. This means that its TALi Detect and TALi Train products can be accessed via Google products including G Suite for Education and Google Chromebook. Conveniently, these products are used by over 55 per cent of all U.S. schoolchildren.

On March 25, TALi joined Family Zone in announcing a positive cash position. With over $6 million cash on hand, the software company is covered and will not need to raise any money for the rest of the year.

As children have had to adjust to learning from home, they can be less focused and more distracted due to not being in a formal learning environment. Luckily TALi's software helps to improve attention span.

TALi has openly decided to take advantage of the crisis and market its software on any and all channels.

Janison Education

About the company:Janison is an Australian education technology company founded in 1998. Jacquie and Wayne Houldon recognised the disadvantage remote students had to tertiary learning.

Using brand new web technologies, Wayne built one of the first-ever learning management systems. It delivered courses remotely and allowed teachers and students to interact, and refer to online documents.

Janison's very roots are built upon the idea of remote learning which has somewhat prepared it for the crisis we're currently in.

What they're doing: From early March, Janison has assured it is, and has always been, well-equipped for learning and working remotely to service over 100 countries. Its products live entirely in the cloud, which means they’re immune to physical limits.

When being bombarded with phone calls by university students concerned about their exams, responded by assuring it runs digital exams monitored by artificial intelligence technology. It allows students to take exams from home via webcam.

Furthermore, in the midst of this global crisis, Janison is busy securing partnerships around the world.

On March 19, it announced it will deliver online testing to schools throughout Japan for the first time. This came off the back of signing a two-year agreement with Benesse, Japan’s largest educational company and the third-largest publisher in the world.

The following day, Janison reported striking a global partnership with D2L, one of the leading learning management systems providers to higher education institutions.

Additionally, just over one week ago, Janison secured Centennial College Toronto as a new client, and will be assisting the college with its transition from face-to-face training to online digital content delivery.

The three-month deal is set to ink $390,000 in content services for Janison.

IDP Education (ASX:IEL)

About the company:IDP Education (IEL) is an ASX 200-listed international education organisation. For over 50 years, the company has paved the way for students to study abroad. During its time, it has partnered with over 650 leading universities, schools and colleges across Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.S. and the U.K.

What they're doing: In February 2020, the course provider reported on attractive earnings for its FY20 half-year results. IDP achieved revenue of $379 million, a 25 per cent increase over the same period. Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) increased 49 per cent over the prior corresponding period (PCP) to reach $86.9 million.

The company assured it was not experiencing any material impact on its financial performance. This was, however, before travel bans were strictly put in place.

As it is an organisation highly focused on travelling, the company suffered a dip in its share price for the month of March. But this month, the ASX 200-lister has bounced back.

On April 2, shares surged following an update on a $225 million share placement which was well-received by investors. While this still represents the need to raise money, the company is doing what it takes to sustain enough liquidity to trade through the COVID-19 pandemic.

IDP also subtly announced its intention to use the funds to take advantage of the current market opportunity.

G8 Education (ASX:GEM)

About the company:G8 Education (GEM) is Australia’s largest early childhood education and care provider. It operates around 470 centres across the country and looks after about 58,000 children per week.

What they're doing: On April 9, ASX 200-lister has called out to institutional and retail investors for a $301 million equity raise to stay on top of its financial position during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It's no secret that the global education system could suffer from this, however, if companies are able to take control of their finances, shift to online services and even tap into any government benefits, they'll be sure to stay afloat if not continue making money.

Luckily for G8 Education, it is eligible for the Federal Government's JobKeeper package and the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package (ECECRP).

This means the company can keep its centres open to keep supporting families and employees. Even more importantly, the ECECRP is slashing parents' fees so G8 is likely to see a climb in the number of children in early childhood care.


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