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Pitney Bowes Fourth-Quarter Profit Up Sharply

Pitney Bowes, the biggest U.S. supplier of postage meters and mailing machines, said its quarterly earnings from continuing operations doubled, helped by increased equipment sales.

Fourth-quarter earnings from continuing operations rose to 73 cents a share from 36 cents a share in the comparable period last year.

The results included a charge of $12 million, or 5 cents a share, related to the company's restructuring, as a well as a gain on $2 million, or 1 cent a share, related to a legal settlement.

Excluding these items, earnings from continuing operations were 77 cents a share, which matched the average analysts' forecast reported by Thomson Financial.

Total revenue rose to $1.55 billion from $1.43 billion. Analysts expected total revenue of $1.53 billion.

Equipment sales grew 12% to $412.9 million. Pitney Bowes said revenue from its core mail business rose 5% to $620.3 million from $588.7 million. The company cited greater demand for its networked digital mailing systems, as well as its supplies and payment services.

For the first quarter, Pitney Bowes expects earnings of 66 cents to 68 cents a share. It expects earnings of $2.90 to $2.98 a share for the full year. It also expects revenue growth of 6% to 9% for the first quarter and full year.

The company said its board authorized a one-cent increase of its quarterly common stock dividend to 33 cents a share, payable in the first quarter.

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