UPDATE 1-Strayer forecasts weak 4th-qtr profit, suspends dividend

Fri Nov 9, 2012 7:43am EST

* To suspend quarterly dividend in 2013

* Expects fourth-quarter earnings $1.43-$1.45 per share vs est $1.59

* To raise tuition by 3 pct from January

Nov 9 (Reuters) - For-profit education company Strayer Education Inc forecast fourth-quarter profit well below analysts' expectations, and said it would not pay a regular quarterly dividend in 2013.

For-profit colleges have seen enrollments fall after they tightened admission policies to meet stricter regulations aimed at reducing student debt. The high unemployment rate has also affected enrollment.

The company's was spending about $12 million per quarter on dividend payouts, about three times its net profit for the last quarter.

Strayer, which caters mainly to working adults, said the Strayer University, its main source of revenue, will increase tuition by 3 percent effective January 2013.

Strayer also pegged its fourth-quarter earnings at $1.43 to $1.45 per share, well below analysts' average estimate of $1.59 per share.

Bad debt expense as a percentage of revenue rose to 4.2 percent in the third quarter from 3.8 percent a year earlier.

New student sign-ups rose 4 percent in the fall term, while total enrollments were down 5 percent at 51,727 students.

Net income fell to $4.1 million, or 36 cents per share, from $13.9 million, or $1.20 per share, a year earlier.

Revenue fell 9 percent to $124.3 million.

Analysts had expected Strayer to earn 32 cents per share on revenue of $123.5 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company's shares, which have nearly halved in value this year, closed at $56.17 on the Nasdaq on Thursday.

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