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ITT Educational posts first-quarter profit, raises forecast

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Profits at ITT Educational Services Inc. soared above the expectations of Wall Street analysts in the first quarter, prompting the company to raise its full-year forecast.

The Carmel-based operator of for-profit colleges said Thursday that it pulled in profits of $85.7 million, up nearly 44 percent from the same quarter a year ago.

ITT earned $2.46 per share. Analysts were expecting profits of $2.28 per share, according to Reuters.

As a result, ITT Educational now expects to produce profits of $10.50 to $11.25 per share during the full year, up from a previous forecasted range of $10 to $10.50 per share.

Joblessness in the U.S. economy continues to help drive students to ITT’s schools to learn new skills. New student enrollment shot up 22 percent in the quarter, compared with the same period a year ago, to a total of 23,064. The companies schools have total enrollment now of 84,555, an increase of 29 percent from this time a year ago.

Those gains drove a 33 percent surge in ITT’s revenue, to $384 million. Analysts had been expecting revenue of $372.7 million.

Analysts have been concerned that too many ITT students either don’t finish or fail to get a job after graduation, leading in both cases to defaults on their student loans. The company’s percentage of bad debt rose to 5.9 percent in the first quarter, up from 4.9 percent a year ago.

Nevertheless, the company’s stock price is up 23 percent for the year and trading near its 52-week high. The shares closed Wednesday at $118.15 apiece.

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