UPDATE 1-Nelnet Q4 profit tops estimates

Wed Mar 3, 2010 8:09am EST

* Q4 adj EPS $1.64 vs est $1.21

* Fee based income rises 13 pct

* Net interest income more than doubles

March 3 (Reuters) - Nelnet Inc (NNI.N) posted a quarterly profit that beat Wall Street expectations as the consolidator of student loans managed to reign in expenses and received a boost from its fee-based revenue.

For the fourth quarter, the company earned $59.1 million, or $1.18 a share, compared with $31 million, or 63 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding discontinued operations, restructuring charges and impairment expenses, the company earned $81.3 million, or $1.64 a share, which compares with analysts estimates of $1.21 as per Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Fee-based revenue for the quarter rose 13 percent to $36 million and total operating expenses fell 12 percent to $90.3 million, Nelnet said in a regulatory filing.

The company said it was servicing about $3.4 billion of loans on behalf of the Department of Education at the end of Dec. 31, of which about $1.5 billion was incremental volume previously serviced by other companies.

Nelnet said net interest income for the quarter was at $80.5 million, compared with $38.5 million, a year ago.

Shares of the Lincoln, Nebraska-based company closed at $16.90 Tuesday on Nasdaq. (Reporting by Archana Shankar in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)