Accredited Home Lenders

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posted a net profit of $31.3 million, or $1.43 per diluted share for the quarter ended March 31, compared with $22.5 million or $1.05 a year ago.

The company, which specializes in non-prime residential mortgages, attributed this gain largely to increases in net interest income and a gain on the sale of loans.

Analysts had estimated net income of $1.38 per share.

During the quarter, the San Diego-based company originated $3.2 billion in mortgage loans. Net interest income after provision was $52.6 million, compared with $32.2 million a year earlier. The sale of loans brought in $2.1 billion.

"The first quarter unfolded much as we anticipated, with seasonally softer volume in January and February compared to the run rate during the second half of 2004, higher short-term interest rates, and stiff price competition, Chairman and Chief Executive James Konrath said.

Net revenue for the quarter increased by 36% to $123 million, matching analyst estimates.

For the current quarter, the company expects diluted earnings per share of $1.80, and $6.90 per share for the year.

Shares were down 10 cents, or 0.25%, to $39.15, in recent trading.