Shares of Automatic Data Processing ( ADP) were higher after the company said fourth-quarter profits fell slightly but edged higher than the consensus analyst estimate.

The Roseland, N.J.-based computing services firm said fourth-quarter earnings dipped to $211.9 million, or 36 cents a share, from $216.7 million, or 36 cents a share, in the same period last year.

Revenue rose 9% to $2.1 billion from $1.9 billion a year earlier.

Analysts had forecast earnings of 35 cents a share on revenue of $2.08 billion.

The company said revenue at its employer services unit rose 13%, while the number of employees on its clients' payrolls, "pays per control," continued to rebound in the U. S. with 1.5% growth.

For fiscal 2005, the company said it sees momentum in sales and expects mid-single digit revenue growth and double-digit earnings per share growth.

Despite that forecast, ADP expects to start the year slower with lower growth early in the year. The company anticipates that earnings growth will accelerate throughout the year with more favorable interest rate comparisons.

Shares of ADP were recently up 95 cents, or 2.4%, to $40.45.

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