Maxcor Financial ( MAXF) tumbled Thursday morning after it said earnings fell in its fourth quarter both before and after a gain in the year-ago period.

The inter-broker dealer earned $1.54 million, or 19 cents a share, in the latest quarter compared with earnings of $5.96 million, or 73 cents a share, last year. The year-ago period included a gain of $3.9 million, or 48 cents a share, primarily reflecting insurance payments related to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Maxcor earned $2 million, or 25 cents a share, before the item.

The shares were recently down $2.44, or 17.2%, to $11.74.

Maxcor said operating income fell in the quarter on reduced trading volume in certain Euro Brokers inter-dealer brokerage businesses, as well as increased costs associated with hiring and retaining employees for new and existing businesses. The quarter also was hurt by higher losses in its high-yield and distressed debt sales and trading group.