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What: Shares of DeVry (NYSE:DV) were tumbling today, falling as much as 22% after the for-profit educator released disappointing enrollment numbers in its quarterly earnings report.

So what: Profits dropped 15% at DeVry last quarter as new student enrollment at its namesake and biggest school fell 21%, while companywide enrollment declined 7%. Adjusted earnings of $0.90 a share beat analyst estimates by $0.09 but were down from $1 a year ago, and revenue missed by $10 million, falling 6% to $508 million. Still, it's the trend that counts here, especially with new students, who are seen as the lifeblood of the industry. With a 21% drop at its core school, investors have good reason to fear worse news ahead.

Now what: Adding insult to industry, some investment firms issued some negative responses following the report, as Deutsche Bank dropped DeVry from a buy to a hold because of the loss in enrollment, and Barrington Research said a "rebound in enrollment remains elusive," but it maintained its "market perform" rating. Education has been of the worst-performing sectors of the past two years as increased government scrutiny has led to lower enrollments and scrambling among schools to prove the worth of their offering. I'd stay away until everything is moving in the right direction.

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