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Why Service Corp. International (SCI) is Higher on Wednesday

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Service Corporation International (SCI) is gaining after fourth-quarter and full-year earnings came in better than expected.

In afternoon trading, shares had added 3% to $18.02. Trading volume of 4.7 million is more than three times its three-month average daily volume.

The funeral services provider posted quarterly net income of 27 cents a share, 3 cents higher than analysts expected. Revenue of $668.6 million, 6.2% higher than a year earlier, beat expectations by $14.6 million.

For fiscal 2014, the company expects per-share earnings between $1 and $1.10.

Last December, the company finalized its acquisition of cemetery and funeral services provider Stewart Enterprises.

"We believe that the current momentum of our pre-need cemetery sales program coupled with our strategic initiatives centered on leveraging our scale will help to offset the higher than expected level of divestitures required in the Stewart acquisition and increases in other ongoing non-cash costs related to the Stewart transaction," said CEO Tom Ryan in a statement.

TheStreet Ratings team rates SERVICE CORP INTERNATIONAL as a Buy with a ratings score of B+. The team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate SERVICE CORP INTERNATIONAL (SCI) a BUY. This is driven by several positive factors, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, reasonable valuation levels and increase in stock price during the past year. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated."

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