Corinthian Colleges' ( COCO) fourth-quarter earnings rose 58.9% and came in slightly higher than analysts were predicting. The college said increased online program registrations and effective cost controls contributed to the results and it boosted guidance for the first quarter. The shares rose about 5% to $33.53 in early trading. Earnings were $12 million, or 27 cents a share, compared with $7.6 million, or 17 cents a share, a year ago. Analysts polled by First Call/Thomson Financial had predicted an EPS of 23 cents. Per share amounts have been restated to reflect a 2-for-1 stock split that was effected in the form of a stock dividend in May 2002. Revenue was up 42.4% to $94.6 million, compared with $66.4 million last year. Corinthian credited a 34% increase in the college population for the rise, from 25,626 students last year to 34,221. During the quarter, the college opened four new branch campuses. It also expanded and relocated several campuses. Looking ahead, the college expects to earn between 22 cents and 24 cents per share for the first quarter and between $1.12 and $1.18 for the year. Analysts polled by First Call/Thomson Financial were predicting earnings of 19 cents a share for the first quarter and $1.07 a share for the year.