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Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Free Report

said it earned $1.50 a share excluding certain items in its fiscal fourth quarter, handily beating Wall Street's expectations.

Analysts had expected Goldman would earn $1.38 a share in the quarter ended Nov. 24, according to

First Call/Thomson Financial

. A year earlier Goldman earned $1.54 a share.

Goldman said its "core earnings," or earnings excluding amortization of employee initial public offering awards but including restricted stock issue for the IPO, came to $1.58 for the fiscal fourth quarter.

In the most-recent quarter Goldman recorded an after-tax charge of $180 million related to its acquisition of

Spear Leeds & Kellogg

. Including the charge, Goldman earned $1.16 a share for the quarter.

In a statement, CEO Henry Paulson Jr. said, "Although the markets continue to be slower for a number of our businesses, we are cautiously optimistic about the prospects for our business in 2001, and confident of the significant global growth opportunities of the coming years."