Strong performance in its travel and retail segments will lift Cendant's ( CD) second-quarter earnings above analyst estimates. The company also said it's still studying the sale of its mortgage-banking division, confirming
a strategy first reported by TheStreet.com in March. The New York consumer services conglomerate said second-quarter earnings will be 46 cents or 47 cents a share, above the Thomson First Call consensus estimate of 44 cents a share. The company said all of its segments will report a year-over-year improvement. Cendant also said it hired Goldman Sachs and Blackrock to help it explore alternatives for its mortgage lending operation, which it said continues to perform consistently with expectations. The company noted that whatever happens, it will keep a hand in the home-loan business because of its real-estate agencies. "Our mortgage business, which is expected to account for only a fraction of the company's income in 2004, continues to perform in line with our expectations," Cendant said. "However, our mortgage banking activities can produce volatility in Cendant's earnings inconsistent with our business model and the remainder of our portfolio." TheStreet.com previously reported that Cendant was having trouble finding a buyer for the lending arm after Citigroup ( C) and J.P. Morgan ( JPM) took a pass. The difficulty of managing earnings volatility in the business was highlighted last week when Seattle-based lender Washington Mutual ( WM) said rising interest rates would crimp its second-quarter results.