First Marblehead Reports Smaller 4Q Loss

BOSTON (AP) ¿ The First Marblehead Corp., which packages students loans for sale to investors, on Monday said its fiscal fourth-quarter loss narrowed from the year before.

The net loss for the quarter was $36.1 million, or 36 cents a share, compared to a loss of $56.7 million, or 57 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Revenue increased to $11.6 million, compared to loss of $33.8 million for the same period last year.

For the year, the company reported a loss of $363 million, or $3.66 per share, compared to a loss of $235.1 million, or $2.46 per share, in 2008.

Yearly revenue was a loss of $290 million, compared with a smaller loss of $28.4 million the year before.

First Marblehead receives fees for helping banks package their private student loans into bonds, which are then sold to investors. Private student loans aren't guaranteed by the government and carry higher interest rates. Investors in recent months have become wary of buying the bonds as defaults among student loans have risen.

The company ended the quarter with $167.2 million in cash, cash equivalents and investments on the balance sheet. Net operating cash usage for the latest quarter was about $11 million.

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