Conseco

(CNC) - Get Report

said its 2001 earnings will fall short of previous estimates of 72 cents a share because of higher provisions for loan losses.

The outlook came in a press release in which the company took issue with analyst research suggesting it is on the brink of insolvency because of the default rate in its manufactured-home lending unit. The company said the analysis, some of which was similar to

reasoning in a column by

TheStreet.com

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Monday, made inaccurate assumptions about the quality of the company's loans.

Conseco said the loan performance of its Conseco Finance unit is being wrongly compared to the manufactured-home lending arm of

GreenPoint Financial

(GPT)

, which last week exited the business.

"Not to pick on Greenpoint, a well-run and successful company, but the loan performance data clearly shows that Conseco Finance is the better performing MH lender. In data compiled by Lehman Brothers and available on its website, you can see that for securitization pools since 1999, Conseco has lower average monthly losses and lower cumulative losses," the company said.

Nevertheless, Conseco said 2001 earnings would trail estimates as it navigates "a very difficult economy that will continue to put pressure on earnings in the Finance company."