Apollo Group Inc. (APOL), the largest U.S. for-profit college chain, gained the most in a year after reporting quarterly earnings and revenue that topped analysts’ estimates and raising its full-year profit forecast.
Profit for the year excluding one-time items will be as much as $740 million, up from a prior projection of as much as $725 million, the owner of the University of Phoenix said in a statement yesterday after the close of regular trading.
Apollo, confronting student reluctance to take on debt amid high unemployment and government investigations of for-profit colleges’ marketing practices, reined in costs during the quarter, said Peter Appert, an analyst at Piper Jaffray & Co. in San Francisco.
“It’s a very challenging environment,” Appert, who has a neutral rating on the stock, said in a telephone interview. “The business dynamics facing for-profit education have clearly changed in the last couple of years.”
In the three months ended May 31 -- Apollo’s fiscal third quarter -- net income fell to $134.4 million, or $1.13 a share, from $212.4 million, or $1.51, a year earlier, Apollo said. Profit excluding some items was $1.20 a share, exceeding the 97- cent average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
Costs were lower than forecast in the quarter, and the company bought back shares, Appert said in an e-mail. Apollo said that marketing expenses dropped $2.2 million to $158.9 million.
As of the end of May, a total of 346,300 students were enrolled in Apollo degree programs, down 13 percent from a year earlier. New students signing up for classes decreased 8 percent. In March, the company said new student enrollment could “break into negative double digits” in the third quarter.
Investors are looking for signs that enrollment is stabilizing, following a decline that began at the end of 2010, Appert said.
In the quarter, sales fell 8.5 percent, to $1.13 billion, compared with the $1.12 billion estimate of analysts. Yesterday, Apollo reiterated that revenue for the year is expected to be as much as $4.3 billion.
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