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Prudential Beats Estimates

Prudential (PRU) reversed a year-ago loss in the fourth quarter, as it got a revenue boost from insurance premiums.

The company said its financial services business earned $481 million, or 92 cents a share, compared to a net loss of $71 million, or 10 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

Fourth-quarter revenue was $4.5 billion, down from $4.6 billion in the year-ago period. But revenue from insurance premiums increased to $2.04 billion from $1.96 billion a year ago.

"Our insurance division benefited from our acquisition of American Skandia, which is providing returns consistent with our expectations as the integration proceeds on track," said CEO Arthur Ryan in a statement.

Operating income was $331 million, or 64 cents a share, including a charge for investment losses and discontinued operations, as well as a gain for divested businesses. That's up from $248 million, or 46 cents, a year ago. On that basis, the company beat estimates of 61 cents, according to Thomson First Call.

Prudential said net income for its closed block business -- which includes now discontinued life insurance and annuity policies -- was $94 million, up from a loss of $122 million last year.

Consolidated net income rose to $575 million from a loss of $193 million in the year-ago period.

Looking ahead, Prudential said it expects operating earnings of $3.05 to $3.25 a share, including a 25-cent charge for the combination of its retail securities brokerage with Wachovia (WB). Analysts were forecasting $3.25 a share, based on a survey by Thomson First Call.

Shares of Prudential finished the regular session up 13 cents at $45.

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