Apollo Group Inc. (APOL), owner of the University of Phoenix, would issue second-quarter report card after market close on Tuesday, March 31. The Phoenix, Arizona-based company, through its subsidiaries, provides various educational programs and services at high school, college, and graduate levels.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect the company to report earnings of $0.65 per share on revenues of $865.45 million for the quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items. For the year-ago period, the company reported a net loss of $32.0 million or $0.19 per share on revenues of $693.6 million.

For-profit education, one of the recession-resistant sectors, seem well-positioned to benefit from the economic meltdown, as out-of-work professionals turn back to schools and institutions to upgrade and hone their skills amid the rise in unemployment rate to 16-year highs.

The national unemployment rate rose from 7.6% in January to 8.1% in February, which was 3.3 percentage points higher than a year earlier, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported.

Education companies also got a booster shot recently, on Obama's stimulus package that would prevent teacher layoffs and provide a new higher education tax cut to nearly 4 million students, and ensure that all schools have advanced technology for the 21st century economy.

For the first quarter, Apollo Group posted higher profit, aided by an uptick in enrollments. Both earnings and revenue exceeded analysts' expectations. Net income for the first quarter was $180.4 million or $1.12 per share, up from $139.9 million or $0.83 per share in the prior year quarter. Revenues increased 24.4% to $971.0 million from $780.7 million in the same quarter of last year.

Among others in the field, Career Education Corp. (CECO) reported a rise in fourth quarter earnings despite a drop in revenue, helped by a decline in charges and operating expenses from last year.

The Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based Career Education's fourth quarter net income rose to $31.21 million or $0.35 per share from $8.83 million or $0.10 per share in the prior-year period. Total revenue for the quarter declined 5.2% to $431.77 million from $455.28 million last year.

DeVry Inc. (DV) reported increased profit for the second quarter on a 35% top line growth driven by new enrollments. Second quarter net income rose 19.7% to $42.87 million from $35.81 million last year. On a per share basis, earnings were up 20.4% to $0.59 from $0.49 in the previous year. Revenues increased 35% to $369.62 million from $273.74 million in the prior year quarter.

ITT Educational Services Inc. (ESI) reported a rise in profit for fourth quarter, helped by a 21.4% increase in revenues driven by new student enrollments and higher student retention. Both earnings and revenues exceeded analysts' consensus estimate. Looking forward to fiscal 2009, the company expects earnings to be in a range of $6.25 - $6.45 per share.

Education companies that offer more accessible and germane educational programs are generating strong growth in their results. Like many for-profit online educators, Apollo Group, Corinthian Colleges, Capella Education Co. (CPLA), and ITT Educational Services have traded upwards markedly amid the recession when other sectors have been engulfed in all-out cataclysm. Oddly enough, the current recession is a blessing in disguise for the education industry, as scores of workers are been prompted to augment their savoir-faire based on the twisted economic stance.

Apollo shares, which have been trading between $37.92 and $90.00 in the past 52 weeks, is currently trading at $80.16, up $1.22 or 1.55%.

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