As a lawyer, I speak from experience when I tell you that it is no fun dealing with other lawyers. As an advisor of Russian immigrants to the U.S., I can tell you that it is no pleasure dealing with the U.S. government. That the management of for-profit educator ITT Educational Services
It has been nearly six months now since the news first broke that ITT was under federal investigation for alleged violations, ranging from altering data on its admissions rates to playing around with student grades to lying about employment placement rates for its graduates.
Ever since, the company has had to contend with class action lawsuits by the same kinds of vulture law firms that have assailed everyone from educating peers Corinthian Colleges
Add all of that up, and it should come as no surprise that the company's stock is currently 40% off its 52-week high. Yet, for all the drama surrounding ITT, the company has proven remarkably adept at sticking to its mission and churning out graduates -- and profits. Yesterday, it announced that despite six months of turmoil and skyrocketing legal expenses to defend itself against all enemies (domestic and more domestic), revenues for the past quarter were up 21%, and profits were up twice that. That's simply astounding.
What's more, had the company never been forced to incur all the additional legal costs, earnings would have been up 76% -- fully in line with the kinds of increases being posted by its other peers such as University of Phoenix
ITT did not include a cash flow statement in its earnings release, but based on the analysis I ran last week, the company looks to be quite attractively priced at an enterprise value-to-free cash flow ratio of just 10.7, with long-term earnings growth projected to be in the low 20% range. Is that kind of growth attainable, and if so, is it sustainable over the long term? I would hazard a guess that it is. The company proved yesterday that it is quite capable of earning its shareholders a healthy profit in even the most hostile of business environments.
Fool contributor Rich Smith owns no interest in any of the companies mentioned in this article.