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Hardware Sales Lift Lexmark

Earnings beat estimates and the company guides in line.
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Strong printer sales drove up



fourth-quarter earnings a better-than-expected 11.6% from the year-ago quarter.

The company earned $155.0 million, or $1.18 a share, in the quarter, compared with $138.8 million, or $1.05 a share, last year. Sales rose 12% from last year to $1.54 billion. Analysts had been forecasting earnings of $1.14 a share on sales of $1.47 billion in the 2004 quarter.

For the current quarter, Lexmark expects to earn 95 cents to $1.05 a share, up from 91 cents a share in the year-ago first quarter. Revenue should climb by a percentage in the mid- to high-single digits. Analysts are expecting earnings of $1.02 a share on sales of $1.36 billion in the first quarter.

The stock fell 2 cents to $84.11 on Instinet.

In the fourth quarter, Lexmark said, revenue from laser and inkjet printers rose 16% from a year ago, while revenue from printer supplies rose 13%.

"Most importantly, we continued disciplined investment in our core strategic development and marketing initiatives to drive future growth, and delivered a 28% year-to-year increase in EPS for the full year," the company said in a press release.