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First Data Shopping Card Unit

It hires Morgan Stanley and guides lower for 2005.

First Data

(FDC) - Get First Data Corporation Class A Report

hired Morgan Stanley to shop its U.S. credit card issuing business.

"This business continues to dampen the growth rates of the entire company, and maximizing shareholder value over the long term remains our top priority," said CEO Charlie Fote.

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The company said softness in the card business would push 2005 earnings down to around $2.15 a share, well below the $2.30 Thomson First Call estimate.

First Data also offered some bad news for 2006. "Based on the timing of any actions within the Card segment, Card is expected to continue to negatively impact First Data's consolidated growth rates through the middle of 2006," the company said. "Consistent with previous years, full-year revenue and EPS guidance for 2006 will be discussed at the January investor conference."

On Wednesday, First Data shares fell 66 cents to $41.78.