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First Data

(FDC) - Get First Data Corporation Class A Report

Tuesday reported higher fourth-quarter profit, driven by its payments unit.

The electronic commerce company earned $397.7 million, or 54 cents a share, based on continuing operations, compared with $350.8 million, or 46 cents a share, a year ago. Otherwise, the company earned 55 cents a share. The Thomson First Call consensus estimate was 54 cents a share.

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Revenue rose to $2.24 billion versus $2.02 billion a year ago.

Operating profit rose 13% to $323 million at its electronic payment unit, which includes Western Union, in the quarter ended Dec. 31.

For full-year 2003, the company earned $1.85 a share, excluding charges of 3 cents a share, compared with $1.56 a year ago.

The Denver-based company forecast 2004 earnings of $2 to $2.18 a share, excluding restructuring and acquisition costs of up to 10 cents a share. The consensus estimate is $2.17 a share.