ITT Educational Services Inc. again beat the expectations of Wall Street analysts despite repeating a recent trend of signing up fewer students and posting lower profit.
The Carmel-based operator of for-profit colleges announced Thursday morning that it earned $79 million in the second quarter ended June 30, a 17.7-percent drop from the same period a year ago.
But ITT boosted its earnings per share by buying back shares, including 1.1 million shares in the first quarter. That allowed the company to post earnings per share of $2.85, an increase from $2.78 in the same quarter last year.
Analysts were expecting earnings per share of $2.64 in the most recent quarter.
Enrollment of new students in the quarter fell 19.9 percent compared with the same period last year, to 17,351. Overall, ITT’s enrollment declined 7 percent, to 78,743.
Quarterly revenue also decreased, by 3.5 percent, to $387.9 million.
Enrollment has declined at for-profit colleges after the U.S. Education Department increased restrictions on recruiting. Beginning this year, the Obama administration is requiring for-profit colleges to ensure that at least 45 percent of former students are paying down their loans beginning four years after leaving school.
As a percentage of revenue, ITT’s bad debt decreased from 4.5 percent in the second quarter compared with 5.7 percent the same time last year.
ITT stock has been on a tear lately. After sinking to a 52-week low of $50 in September, shares rebounded to close at a high of $95.52 on Tuesday. The stock opened at $92.59 Thursday morning, fell $10 per share in early trading, then rose to $88.39 by mid-morning.
ITT adjusted its earnings-per-share goal this year from a range of $8.50 to $10.50 to $10 to $10.50.