Accredo Health ( ACDO) posted a steep third-quarter loss due to a reserve for problem receivables at a company it recently acquired. Before the item, earnings rose from a year ago and topped expectations.

The news was good enough to send the company's shares up more than 15% to $17.48 on the Instinet premarket session.

Accredo lost $17.8 million, or 37 cents a share, in the latest quarter, including the receivables charge of $35.7 million. Before the charge it earned $17.9 million, or 37 cents a share, up from $9.0 million, or 22 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts had been forecasting earnings of 31 cents a share. Revenue rose to $366.6 million from $178.5 million.

The size of the charge forced the company into its second earnings revision in a month. Accredo now expects to earn 58 cents to 60 cents a share in all of 2003, down from previous guidance of $1.20 to $1.25 a share. Before the charge it epects to earn $1.32 to $1.34 a share, and $1.53 to $1.58 a share in 2004.

"Although our sales growth slowed in the March quarter, our margins and level of expenses continue to meet or exceed our expectations. We believe that this slowdown in revenue growth is a short-term issue," the company said in a release.

Gross margins rose to 20.8% in the latest quarter from 16.5% a year ago, thanks to a better product mix.

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