Shares in online education business 3P Learning Ltd (ASX: 3PL) crashed more than 20% in morning trade today after the company disappointed investors with an underlying profit of $3.2 million, down 22% on the prior corresponding period (pcp).

The profit falls are despite some impressive revenue growth across its core operating regions of Australia and New Zealand, Europe, and the United States, with respective growth over the pcp of 10%, 52%, and 58% respectively.

Generally regarded as one of the ASX’s hottest up-and-coming technology stocks the company’s online learning and software products are now in 18,000 schools worldwide and used by over 4.8 million students.

The investment in overseas growth has clearly taken its toll on the bottom line, although all other metrics continue to remain positive including a strong outlook in the fast-growing sector of online education.

The business also failed to declare an interim dividend and stated that future cash flows are expected to be directed towards supporting the growth of the company. Disappointing on the dividend front like this is a sacrilegious act in the eyes of income-hungry investors, and another reason why investors have sent 3P Learning shares straight to detention today.

3P Learning shares are changing hands for $1.45 this afternoon and in my opinion look a buy for investors prepared to look to the long term and back the potential of the company’s market-leading products to grow their global market share.

However, risks remain, primarily around competition, as this is a lucrative space with established overseas rivals all operating in an environment where competitors are inclined to compete on cost in order to win market share.

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Motley Fool contributor Tom Richardson has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.