SAN DIEGO (AP) ¿ Online education provider Bridgepoint Education Inc. said Wednesday that net income in the third quarter more than doubled as the school enrolled more students in its Web classes. The San Diego company also issued full-year guidance above Wall Street expectations, sending shares up in morning trading. Bridgepoint said it earned $22.4 million, or 37 cents per share, compared with $8.3 million, or 7 cents per share, in the same period last year. Sales more than doubled to $127.4 million from $60.3 million as enrollments grew almost 80 percent to 54,894 students. Enrollments at for-profit education companies are tightly linked to unemployment. As joblessness rises, more Americans seek to bolster their resumes with additional degrees and classes. The unemployment rate was 9.8 percent in September and is expected to peak above 10 percent by early next year. Bridgepoint's results beat Wall Street expectations. Analysts expected per-share earnings of 26 cents on revenue of $115.3 million, according to Thomson Reuters.
Bridgepoint also said it expected full-year earnings per share between $1.15 and $1.17, excluding charges related to settlement of a stockholder claim and the vesting of stock options. Analysts forecast per-share profit of $1.01. The company, which went public in April, did not provide an update on a federal regulatory audit by the Department of Education's Office of Inspector General. In September, Bridgepoint withdrew its registration for a secondary public offering amid the audit, which it said could result in corrective action or fines. The investigation involves Bridgepoint's compensation of enrollment advisers, use of federal aid and documentation of student attendance. Shares of Bridgepoint added 40 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $14.99 in morning trading. They earlier traded as high as $15.25.