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ITT Educational Services swings to loss in 4th qtr

CARMEL, Ind. (AP) -- Shares of ITT Educational Services slid to their lowest point in more than a decade Thursday after the for-profit college swung to a surprise fourth-quarter loss and issued a dim outlook for 2013.

New student enrollment declined 11.4 percent, following a worrying trend for the entire sector. The number of continuing students slid 18 percent, leading to an overall decline of 16.6 percent in total student enrollment.

The Carmel, Ind., company lost $9.5 million, or 41 cents per share, in the final quarter of 2012, reversing a year-earlier profit of $76 million, or $2.87 per share. The latest quarter was weighed down by a $71.1 million loss related to private student loan programs and a $21.8 million settlement cost.

Revenue fell 18 percent to $300.8 million from $368.3 million.

On average, analysts surveyed by FactSet forecast a profit of $1.85 per share and revenue of $313.6 million.

The entire for-profit school sector has been rattled by tougher government oversight. Enrollments soared during the recession, but have shrunk in recent years as the Obama administration put in place new, stricter regulations on recruitment and marketing.

Critics said students were being saddled with massive student loan obligations from the schools, which were not justified by graduation or employment rates.

ITT forecast 2013 earnings per share of between $3.50 and $4, and said new student enrollment could rise or fall 5 percent.

Analysts had been looking for expect a profit of $4.53 per share.

ITT Educational Services Inc. offers technology-oriented undergraduate and graduate degree programs at more than 140 locations in 39 states and online. In morning trading, shares shed 17.2 percent, or $2.47, to $11.86. Earlier shares traded at $11.69, their lowest point since 2000.

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