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reported fourth-quarter earnings Thursday that were sharply higher than in the year-ago period on revenue that rose 14%.

For its fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, Loews earned $310.7 million, or $3.15 a share, excluding unusual items. In the year-ago period, the company lost $11.5 million, or 11 cents a share, due primarily to a big boost in claims reserves by its insurance subsidiary,



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. One analyst surveyed by

First Call/Thomson Financial

expected the company, which is based in New York, to earn $2.93 a share.

The holding company, which has interests in tobacco, insurance, hotels, shipping and offshore drilling, posted fourth-quarter revenue of $5.6 billion, up from $4.9 billion in the same quarter one-year ago.

In recent

New York Stock Exchange

trading, shares of Loews fell 68 cents, or 0.7%, to $101.97. On Feb. 5, Loews' shares reached a 52-week high of $105.25.