Shares of Princeton Review Inc. (NASDAQ: REVU) touched a new 52-week low of $0.49 on Thursday, after reporting a wider-than-expected fourth quarter loss. The company also said it has has appointed John Connolly as interim president and chief executive officer, succeeding Michael Perik who has resigned to pursue other interests.

The Framingham, Massachusetts-based Princeton Review wishes Perik well in his future endeavors, including his pursuit of a new venture developing educational training programs in Middle Eastern countries for health care professionals. The company said its board of directors has formed a committee that will immediately begin the search for a permanent chief executive officer to lead the next phase of the company's growth.

The preparation course provider reported a fourth quarter loss of $15.43 million or 29 cents a share, wider than $1.47 million or 4 cents a share last year. Loss from contuning operations was $12.87 million or 28 cents a share, compared to a loss of $14.32 million or 8 cents a share last year.

The latest quarter loss included higher depreciation and amortization expenses of $7.6 million and higher interest expense of $5.1 million, primarily associated with the acquisition of Penn Foster and related financings.

Revenue for the quarter grew 24 percent to $40.6 million. Analysts had expected a loss of 18 cents a share on revenue of $46.16 million. The revenue growth was attributable to $21.6 million in revenue generated by the company's Penn Foster division acquired in December 2009. The last year's Penn Foster revenue was not for the full quarter.

Based on the company's estimates of Penn Foster's full fourth quarter of 2009, revenue fell in lastest quarter by about 3 percent due to lower number of enrollments outweighing an increase in revenue per enrollment. The lower number of enrollments reflect the company's strategy to target more committed students, which the company expects will translate into better retention and, ultimately, higher profitability.

Higher Education Readiness (formerly Test Prep) revenue fell 21 percent to $18.7 million, due to lower retail revenue as customers opted for the company's lower-priced SAT prepartion offerings.

Career Education Partnerships revenue in the fourth quarter was $254,000. The program successfully enrolled 172 additional students during the quarter and classes began in October. The NLC accreditation process was completed in November and classes are expected to begin in March 2011.

Looking ahead into the full year 2011, Princeton Review expects revenue of about $200 million to $210 million, while Street predicts $224.45 million. The company also expects adjusted EBITDA to be between 11 percent and 12 percent of revenue in 2011.

Princeton Review stock gapped open sharply lower on March 10 at $0.80 compared to previous day's close of $0.82. The stock touched a new 52-week low of $0.49. The stock closed Thursday's regular trading down 37.55 percent at $0.51 on a volume of 1.95 million shares on the NASDAQ Stock Market. The stock traded between $0.49 and $4.09 during the past 52 weeks.