Why ITT Educational Services Shares Jumped

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of ITT Educational Services (NYSE: ESI  ) were looking smarter today, gaining as much as 16% after an impressive third-quarter earnings report.

So what: The for-profit educator said earnings per share came in at $0.80, much better than estimates at $0.55, though that was down from $1.83 a year ago. Revenues also dropped 17.6% to $259.4 million, but that was still better than the consensus at $251.9 million. Management did not provide commentary in the earnings release, but there was one bright spot despite the drop in profits and sales. New student enrollment, a key industry figure, increased 5.2% in the quarter, indicating that the company may be reversing its recent enrollment decline. Overall enrollment still drove 7.1%, driving down income.

Now what: In addition to the earnings beat, ITT bumped up its full-year EPS guidance to $4.00-$4.20 from $3.50-$4.00, above analyst estimates at $3.86. As we saw yesterday from Apollo Group, whose shares also rallied after a strong earnings beat, the for-profit education industry seems to be bottoming out. With continuing pressure from state and federal governments on the industry's practices, I wouldn't expect the industry to reach its former heights, but there may be some short-term upside in the sector.  

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