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Knight Trading Confirms Guidance

The market maker sticks to earnings and revenue forecasts for the current quarter and 2004.

Knight Trading

(NITE)

confirmed that it expects fourth-quarter 2003 earnings and full-year 2004 sales and earnings to meet or beat Wall Street's consensus.

The

Nasdaq

market maker said at an analyst meeting Monday that it expects to earn 65 cents to 85 cents a share for full-year 2004 on sales of $760 million to $850 million. Analysts' estimates call for a profit of 68 cents a share on sales of $732 million.

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The results would be an increase from expected 2003 earnings of 53 cents a share on $645.02 million in revenue, according to Thomson First Call estimates. In 2002, the company lost 9 cents a share on $527.36 million in sales.

In its current fourth quarter, the company said it expects to earn 15 cents to 20 cents a share, which is in line with analysts' average forecast of 17 cents a share. The company earned 3 cents a share in the fourth quarter of 2002.

In its most recent third quarter, the company swung to a profit of 20 cents a share from a loss of a penny a share a year earlier. Sales were $182.3 million.

Separately, Jersey City, N.J.-based Knight was upgraded to peer perform from underperform by Bear Stearns, which said the company has "stabilized and diversified its business model, distinguished itself as a proven market share leader and positioned itself for continued earnings growth."

The brokerage estimates Knight's full-year 2004 earnings will derive 65% from equity market making, 25% from asset management and 10% from its options business. In contrast, 80% of 2000 earnings came from market making, the firm said.

Bear Stearns also upped its estimates on the company to earnings of 72 cents a share in 2004 from a previous outlook of 52 cents a share. (Bear Stearns makes a market in Knight's equity securities.)

Shares of Knight were off 11 cents, or 0.8%, to $14.49 in morning trading.