Countrywide Financial Corp. today reported consolidated net earnings of $582 million for the third quarter.

That’s compared with net earnings of $1.1 billion in the third quarter of 2003, the most successful earnings in the company’s history.

Earnings per diluted share for the third quarter were $0.94, a drop from the third quarter of 2003, which saw earnings per share of $1.93, the company’s highest quarter on record.

Pre-tax earnings in the mortgage banking segment were $633 million, which compares to $1.5 billion for last year’s third quarter.

Pre-tax earnings from diversified businesses rose 13 percent over last year to $291 million, fueled by the continued growth of the banking segment, which nearly doubled its earnings over the previous year, according to a company statement.

Total loan production volume was $92 billion for the quarter, down 27 percent from the comparable quarter last year as a result of a 55 percent decline in refinance volume. Partially offsetting the decline in refinance volume, purchase fundings rose 35 percent from the third quarter of 2003 to $52 billion.

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