ITT Educational Services Inc. swung to a loss in the fourth quarter as it recorded $71 million in charges related to private loans that students are struggling to repay. The poor quarterly results sent shares tumbling early Thursday morning, but they rebounded strongly later in the day.
The Carmel-based operator of for-profit colleges lost $9.5 million in the three months ended Dec. 31, or 41 cents per share. In the same quarter a year ago, ITT Educational earned $76 million, or $2.89 per share.
Revenue in the quarter plunged 18 percent from a year ago, to $300.8 million. That total badly missed the projections of Wall Street analysts, who predicted ITT would post revenue of $313.6 million, according to a survey conducted by Thomson Reuters.
Shares of ITT Educational plummeted early in the day, then shot back up into positive territory.
Shares fell as low as $11.69 each in the morning, their lowest intraday price since Jan. 26, 2001. They closed at $16.85, up 17.7 percent.
The shares closed Wednesday at $14.32 apiece, down 78 percent over the past 12 months.
The revenue declines were driven by falling enrollment. Enrollment has been hammered across the entire for-profit college industry over the past two years after the Obama administration and Senate Democrats scrutinized the industry and whether its high tuition costs pay off with good jobs for students.
ITT Educational's new student enrollment fell 11.4 percent in the most recent quarter to 13,398.
ITT has helped students afford its high prices—about $47,000 for a two-year associate's degree—by partnering with private lenders to give students even more loans on top of the federal loans they also use to enroll. ITT guaranteed repayment on thsoe private loans, and now that commitment is coming back to bite the company.
Earlier this month, ITT agreed to pay $46 million to Virginia-based student lender SLM Corp. to settle a legal dispute over the losses in a $180 million loan portfolio. ITT recorded $21.8 million of those charges in the fourth quarter.
But the bigger charges were for other private loan programs ITT set up in 2009 and 2010, which total about $441 million. The company said it set aside reserves for those programs of $66.1 million, on top of $20.1 million the comapny already had reserved to cover losses in the loan programs.
The charges confirmed the fears of analysts, several of whom downgraded the company's stock in the wake of its settlement with SLM.