Rising student enrollment helped Grand Canyon University’s parent company more than double its quarterly profits, according to financial results released on Tuesday.
Phoenix-based Grand Canyon Education reported net income of $15.3 million, or 34 cents per diluted share for the three months that ended Dec. 31. That’s a 145 percent increase from $6.3 million, or 13 cents per diluted share that the education company reported during the same three months a year earlier.
Grand Canyon also notched revenue enrollment gains.
The education company’s net revenue grew 13 percent to $113 million, compared with $100 million during the fourth quarter 2011. Grand Canyon University ended 2011 with 43,900 students, up 5.8 percent from the 41,500 that attended the school in December 2010.
About 38,900 of GCU’s students attend classes online. Another 5,000 attend classes at the school’s Phoenix campus or engage in professional studies.
“It’s becoming increasingly clear that adult students are choosing universities that have a brand that is rooted in a significant traditional campus environment,” said CEO Brian Mueller.
Tuesday’s news of profit gains are in stark contrast to a year ago, when the company was battered by falling enrollment and faced increased scrutiny from regulators.
During the fourth quarter of 2010, the company’s profits fell more than 30 percent.
Grand Canyon also released financial projections for the rest of the year.
First quarter of 2012: Net revenue between $112.5 million and $114.5 million and diluted earnings per share between 26 cents and 27 cents. Enrollment will range from 45,000 to 46,000.
Second quarter: Net revenue to remain between $112.5 million and $114.5 million and diluted earnings per share between 24 cents and 26 cents. Enrollment will range from 41,500 to 42,500.
Third quarter: Net revenue between $120 million and $123 million and diluted earnings per share between 30 cents and 32 cents. Enrollment will range between 47,500 to 48,500.
Fourth quarter: Net revenue between $127 million and $130 million and diluted earnings per share between 36 cents and 39 cents. Enrollment will range between 48,500 to 49,500.
Grand Canyon will end 2012 with net revenue between $472 million and $482 million and diluted earnings per share between $1.16 and $1.24, according to company figures.
Grand Canyon’s financial projections for 2012 were lower than Wall Street expectations, said Brandon Dobell, an analyst with William Blair & Co., which does own stock in the education company. But compared with other companies in the sector, they are doing relatively well, he added.
“I think they have set realistic, if not conservative, expectations for 2012, which is a good thing for investors looking at the stock now,” Dobell said.