ITT Educational Services is performing well despite economic crisis

A deteriorating economy brings two benefits for profit-minded colleges. Rising joblessness creates an army of potential degree-seekers, while falling advertisement rates allow for cheap pitches. Of course, students must be able to come up with tuition. A giant fiscal stimulus bill pending in the U.S. Senate carries $16 billion of proposed increases for federal student loans, grants and work-study programs. Even without the fresh funds, Carmel, Ind.-based ITT Educational Services (ESI:  128.87, +0.78, +0.60%), which operates 105 technical institutes in 37 states, seems to be getting on fine. In its fourth quarter the company achieved a 29% jump in new-student enrollment — its 26th consecutive quarterly increase. Sales for the quarter rose 21% and earnings per share improved 34%. Shares have gained 45% in six months, and now fetch an immodest 21 times this year’s earnings forecast.

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