GREENVILLE, Wis. (AP) ¿ School Specialty Inc., which makes pre-kindergarten learning products, reported a narrower-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter loss Thursday on lower expenses.

The Greenville, Wis., company didn't provide a specific revenue or earnings outlook, citing the recession and delays in the passage of state and school budgets. It did say, however, that it expects it can begin to grow earnings in 2010.

Its shares rose $3.34, or 16.8 percent, to $23.22 in morning trading.

For the period ended April 25, the company lost $11.3 million, or 60 cents per share, compared with a loss of $15.5 million, or 81 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts forecast a loss of 71 cents per share, according to a Thomson Reuters survey. Analysts' estimates typically exclude one-time items.

Selling, general and administrative expenses declined to $76.5 million from $85.3 million.

Quarterly revenue fell 10 percent to $156.2 million from $173.6 million but still beat Wall Street's estimate of $152.6 million.

School Specialty said the revenue dropoff was mostly due to school districts cutting back on their spending because of uncertainty about when they would receive state-education funding and how much funding they would receive.

Full-year profit slipped 16 percent to $34.5 million, or $1.83 per share, from $41.1 million, or $1.99 per share, in the prior year.

Annual revenue dipped 4 percent to $1.05 billion from $1.09 billion.
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