First-quarter profit plunged nearly 29 percent at ITT Educational Services Inc., but still exceeded Wall Street’s dismal expectations.
The Carmel-based operator of for-profit technical colleges earned $61.1 million during the quarter ended March 31, down from $85.4 million in the same quarter a year earlier.
On a per-share basis, ITT Educational’s quarterly earnings fell from $2.91 a year ago to $2.38.
Wall Street analysts expected earnings per share of $2.13, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters. ITT was able to lifts its earnings by 8 cents per share by repurchasing more than 2 million shares of its common stock during the quarter.
Market expectations have been low mainly because enrollment of new students has been declining for seven straight quarters at ITT’s more than 140 campuses around the country. A recession-induced wave of students that flocked to the schools has been ebbing.
New-student enrollment declined 17 percent in the first quarter compared with a year ago, to 18,067 students. Overall enrollment fell 15 percent, to 71,123.
The Obama administration and Senate Democrats have focused a bright light on the recruiting practices of for-profit colleges and the debt loads their students rack up. That attention also slowed enrollment.
ITT’s revenue in the quarter fell 11 percent, to $341.8 million, but that also exceeded analysts’ expectations. They predicted revenue of $335 million.
The higher revenue was driven in part by ITT’s ability to generate more revenue from each of its students. Revenue per student rose 3 percent compared with the first quarter last year, to $4,666.
Shares of ITT Educational’s stock closed Wednesday at $62.41 apiece. The price has risen nearly 10 percent this year.