Corinthian Colleges

(COCO)

posted weaker-than-anticipated fourth-quarter revenue Friday and gave a guidance well below Wall Street's expectation, sending shares sharply lower in early trading.

The higher-education provider said earnings for the quarter ended June 30 jumped to $9.1 million, or 10 cents a share, from $1.8 million, or 2 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding several charges in both periods, earnings per share rose to 15 cents from 14 cents last year. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call projected earnings of 13 cents a share.

Revenue declined to $235.6 million from $239.3 million, falling short of analysts' mean estimate of $242.2 million.

"As anticipated, fourth quarter new enrollment grew slightly compared with the prior year, including the negative effect on enrollments caused by the closure of our New Orleans campus and the proactive steps we took to slow enrollment at three schools in the Georgia market due to accreditation issues. Excluding those campuses, new enrollment grew by 2% in the quarter," said Jack D. Massimino, Corinthian's chief executive.

Corinthian has delayed its annual report for the year because of an ongoing review into its stock option grants, and its results exclude any charges related to that review. The company said it plans to file the 10-K "as soon as practicable."

Looking ahead, Corinthian forecast earnings of 50 cents to 55 cents a share for fiscal 2007 -- below analysts' projection of 63 cents. For the current quarter, the company anticipates a profit of 3 cents a share, compared with Wall Street's forecast of 11 cents.

Shares of Corinthian tumbled $1.45, or 12%, to $10.40 in premarket trading.