HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (AP) ¿ Trade schools operator Career Education Corp. said Wednesday it climbed to a profit in the third quarter on rising revenue from record-high enrollment and number of new students. The company's stock price climbed more than 12 percent in after-hours trading. People sought refuge from the recession in the company's career-oriented programs focused on culinary arts, health education, arts and design as the downturn kept unemployment high. CEO Gary McCullough said the company reached the "highest levels of new student starts and student population in our company's history." Career Education Corp., based in Hoffman Estates, Ill., runs the American InterContinental University, Colorado Technical University and other schools. CEC earned $20.8 million, or 25 cents per share, in the quarter that ended Sept. 30. That compares with a loss of $147 million, or break even per share, a year earlier. Excluding certain one-time items, the company earned 47 cents per share in the latest period. Revenue rose 14 percent to $459.9 million from $403 million.
The results topped estimates of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters, who expected profit of 14 cents per share and revenue of $438 million. The company had set a milestone target for 2010 for operating income between $225 million and $270 million. Based on this year's results so far, Career Education said it is on track to reach the low end of that range in 2009, a year ahead of schedule. Shares rose $2.52 to $23.30 in after-hours trading after closing Wednesday down 47 cents at $20.78.