ITT Educational’s enrollment, profit fall again

ITT Educational Services Inc. saw enrollment and profit continue to slip in the third quarter, but again managed to beat the expectations of Wall Street.

The Carmel-based operator of for-profit colleges announced Thursday morning that it earned $67.3 million in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, a 27.8-percent drop from the same period a year ago. That translated to earnings per share of $2.48 compared with $2.82 per share in the third quarter of 2010.

Analysts expected earnings per share of $2.28 in the most recent quarter.

Enrollment of new students in the quarter fell 14.1 percent compared with the same period last year, to 22,909. Overall, ITT’s enrollment declined 10 percent, to 79,219.

Quarterly revenue also decreased 10 percent, to $360.6 million.

ITT has seen year-over-year enrollment declines for the last five quarters and decreasing profit for the past three periods.

Enrollment has declined at for-profit colleges ever since 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 5.5 percent in the third quarter of 2010 to 3.8 percent in the most recent period.

ITT’s stock had been on a tear, rising to a 52-week high of $95.52 in mid-July. But shares have tumbled since then, falling 33 percent to a Thursday opening price of $64.32.

ITT adjusted its earnings goal this year from a range of $10 to $10.50 per share to $10.40 to $10.60 per share.

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