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College-loan servicing firm

First Marblehead


swung to a profit in the first quarter as earnings easily surpassed Wall Street expectations.

The Boston-based firm earned $141 million, or $2.23 a share, after registering a loss of $5.4 million, or 8 cents a share, a year ago.

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Service revenue soared to $301.8 million, up from a paltry $35.1 million a year ago.

The big spike in service revenue stems from the completion of a $1.39 billion securitization of private student loans.

In the first quarter of last year, First Marblehead did not complete any loan securitizations, which is one of its main revenue generators.

Analysts as surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for earnings of $2.06 a share on revenue of $285 million.

This summer, shares of First Marblehead surged on news that the securitization would create a revenue windfall for the firm.

Shares of First Marblehead closed Wednesday at $71.21 a share. The stock has more than doubled this year.