U.S. Markets closed

Bridgepoint Education tops 4Q expecations

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Bridgepoint Education's fourth-quarter net income slumped 30 percent along with its student enrollment, but it topped most Wall Street expectations in a tough period in the for-profit education sector.

For the period ended Dec. 31, Bridgepoint earned $16 million, or 29 cents per share. That's down from $22.9 million, or 41 cents per share, a year ago.

Analysts expected earnings of 27 cents per share, according to a FactSet poll.

Revenue fell 5 percent to $209.4 million, which was short of the $217 million that analysts had expected.

New student enrollment for its academic institutions — Ashford University and University of the Rockies — declined to about 9,260 from approximately 13,500 a year earlier.

Critics accuse for-profit universities of putting profit ahead of student achievement, with many of students not graduating, or finding that they can't get a job with their degree if they do, leaving them saddled with thousands of dollars in student loan debt.

The federal government stepped in recently, tying access to federal student loans more closely with the performance of graduating students.

Full-year net income dropped 26 percent to $128 million, or $2.29 per share, from $172.8 million, or $3.02 per share, in the prior year.

Annual revenue climbed 4 percent to $968.2 million from $933.3 million.

Bridgepoint Education Inc. said Tuesday that total student enrollment fell to 81,810 from 86,642.

The San Diego company expects a 2.75 percent tuition hike for online students at Ashford University for courses starting on or after April 1.