Shares of

Dun & Bradstreet


were sharply lower around midday Wednesday, after the company said its first-quarter earnings will fall short of analysts' estimates.

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The business data provider said it expects a profit of 51 cents a share, excluding one-time restructuring charges. Analysts had predicted earnings of 53 cents a share, according to Thomson Financial/First Call. Including charges, the company forecasts a profit of 48 cents a share. The company posted earnings of 43 cents a share in the year-ago period.

"We are disappointed with our revenue results, which reflect cautious customer investment behavior in the current economic environment," said Chairman and Chief Executive Allan Z. Loren.

Dun & Bradstreet said revenue will be $315 million, down from $318.5 million a year earlier. Sales in the company's North America business are expected to be 6% lower at $227 million. The company said currency volatility will allow it to increase its international revenue by 18% to $88 million. Financial results are due April 21.

Dun & Bradstreet's shares were down 13% recently at $34.30.