Warren Rustand

Tucson-based social services provider Providence Service Corp. posted higher first-quarter profits Wednesday on growth in its non-emergency transportation business.

The company also announced that Warren Rustand has been appointed CEO of Providence after serving in that role in an interim capacity since November.

Providence reported net income of $6.7 million, or 49 cents per share, in the first quarter, compared with net income of $3 million, or 23 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2012.

First-quarter revenue rose 8 percent to $281.5 million, as Providence's non-emergency transportation division grew 17 percent, the company said in an earnings release after the close of trading Wednesday.

The results beat Wall Street analysts' average expectation of earnings of 32 cents per share but fell short of analysts' revenue forecast of $282.5 million, according to data gathered by Thomson Financial.

Providence shares fell 23 cents, or about 1 percent, to $18.47 in trading Wednesday on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Transportation revenues grew because of program expansions in certain markets, including New York, Georgia and South Carolina, the company said. Revenue from Providence's social-services segment fell 7 percent to $88.4 million, mainly because of contract terminations related to workforce-development work in Canada and expiration of home-based tutoring contracts stemming from changes in the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Rustand said in prepared remarks that the company's social-services contract base is strong headed into the 2012 renewal cycle, with new programs including a foster-care contract in Texas.

Rustand became interim CEO of Providence after the departure of founder Fletcher McCusker. Rustand has served as a director of Providence since May 2005 and as lead director from January 2007 until his appointment as interim CEO.

Formerly CEO of Rural/Metro Corp. and appointments secretary to President Gerald Ford in the mid-1970s, Rustand has served as a director for more than 40 public, private and not-for-profit organizations, the company said.

Contact Assistant Business Editor David Wichner at dwichner@azstarnet.com or 573-4181.