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What: Shares of Apollo Group (Nasdaq: APOL) surged 12% in intraday trading Tuesday after the embattled for-profit education provider posted better-than-expected quarterly results.

So what: Despite a 42% drop in new student enrollments, Apollo's adjusted earnings for the quarter of $1.61 per share managed to top the average analyst estimate of $1.35 per share. The entire for-profit college sector was slaughtered yesterday on Strayer's (Nasdaq: STRA) miserable new student starts, but thanks to some cost-cutting, tuition increases, and a reduction in shares outstanding, Apollo managed to appease Mr. Market -- for one day, at least.

Now what: I wouldn't get overly excited about Apollo's earnings beat. Stricter enrollment rules and negative press continued to weigh heavily on Apollo's student sign-ups, and with the sector facing even more regulatory hurdles in the coming months, things could get a lot more challenging. Even Apollo co-CEO Greg Cappelli noted that it was "a volatile time within the education sector," so most investors are simply better off on the sidelines.

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Fool contributor Brian Pacampara owns no position in any of the companies mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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