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Updated from 8:40 a.m. EDT

Merrill Lynch

( MER), the U.S.' largest securities firm, said Tuesday that its second-quarter earnings topped Wall Street estimates on the heels of strong growth in asset management and underwriting fees and a jump in interest income.

Merrill Lynch, based in New York, earned $2.01 per share, a 28% increase from the $1.57 per share earned in the same period last year. The figure was 18.2% above the $1.70 analyst consensus, according to

First Call/Thomson Financial


Revenue hit $6.7 billion, a 23.1% increase from last year's second-quarter figure of $5.44 billion. Net earnings were up 34%, to $902 million from $673 million.

The company also announced a two-for-one common stock split and 7% increase in the quarterly cash dividend from 30 cents to 32 cents a share. The stock split will go into effect Aug. 31 and will be payable to shareholders of record on Aug. 4.

For the quarter, asset management and portfolio service fees showed some of the most significant growth for Merrill Lynch. Asset management fees were up 10%, while portfolio service fees increased 51% from the comparable period a year ago.

Investment banking revenues rose 20% to $1.1 billion, as a result of a surge in underwriting revenues and fees for advising on mergers and acquisitions. Highlights included Merrill Lynch's role as advisor to


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Merrill Lynch finished down 2 31/35, or 2.3%, at 129.