said third-quarter earnings rose from a year ago and beat analysts' estimates by a penny a share, thanks to strength in its financial services division, cost management and favorable foreign exchange rates.

The New York-based company, which owns Standard & Poor's,

Business Week

and McGraw-Hill Education, said earnings from continuing operations were $290.3 million, or $1.51 a share, up from last year's $274.6 million, or $1.41 a share. Analysts were expecting $1.50 a share.

McGraw-Hill said that including the impact of the divesture of S&P ComStock, completed in February, net income rose 5%, or $14.1 million.

Operating revenue was up 4% at $1.6 billion. Revenue in the financial services unit rose 15% to $440.5 million, while operating profit was $171.6 million, up 34%. Foreign exchange added $8.1 million to sales and $5.6 million to operating income in the financial services segment.

Revenue in the company's education unit increased 1% to $1 billion, with foreign exchange adding $5.2 million to results.

The company said assets under management in Standard & Poor's exchange-traded funds were $66.6 billion at the end of the quarter, which is an increase of 36% from last year.

But McGraw-Hill said in a press release that "demand for brokerage information products remained soft." Meanwhile, sales at its professional products unit were flat. And at

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, ad pages fell 3.8%.

The company predicted 7% to 9% earnings per share growth in 2003, including a noncash, nonoperating pension accounting change.

Analysts are expecting the company to earn $3.19 a share in 2003, compared with its earnings of $2.96 a share in 2002.

Shares of the company closed at $63.70 Wednesday on the

New York Stock Exchange