SPOKANE, Wash., Oct. 20, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Ambassadors Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:EPAX), a leading provider of educational travel experiences and online education research materials, announced $0.77 fully diluted per share earnings for the nine months ended September 30, 2010, a 44 percent decline over $1.37 fully diluted per share earnings for the same period one year ago. Net income for the nine months ended September 30, 2010 was $14.8 million, compared to $26.4 million for the same period in 2009. Delegates traveled declined 22 percent, resulting in a $40 million reduction in gross receipts year-over-year. Gross margin as a percentage of gross receipts was 41 percent during both the nine months ended September 30, 2010 and 2009. Comparing the third quarters ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, fully diluted per share earnings decreased 42 percent to $0.37 in 2010 from $0.64 in 2009, and net income decreased 43 percent to $7.1 million in 2010 from $12.5 million in 2009.
"While we are disappointed in our financial results for 2010, we are encouraged by our progress for 2011," stated Jeff Thomas, president and chief executive officer of Ambassadors Group, Inc. "As of October 17, 2010, our consolidated enrolled revenue for 2011 showed a 7 percent year over year improvement, compared to the same time last year. Our core program line, Student Ambassador Programs, posted an 11 percent improvement in both enrolled participants and revenue. We believe this trend is a result of our concentrated marketing and sales efforts.
The resiliency of the Student Ambassador Program line is also visible in the 2010 financial results, specifically in maintaining a 41 gross margin percent in the midst of a 22 percent decline in delegates traveled. The reduced gross receipts coupled with an increase in operating expenses resulted in operating income of $20.6 million, a 48 percent decrease from last year. In reviewing operating expenses, the majority of our sales and marketing expenses in Q3, and of course Q4, are for 2011 revenue. In addition, we are still on track to close our print and production facility by the end of the year, yet the financial benefits will not be gained until 2011.