Countrywide Financial Corp. had net earnings of $343 million for the fourth quarter of 2004, down from net earnings of $564 million in the same quarter of 2003, the company said today. Earnings per diluted share were 56 cents, down from last year's fourth-quarter earnings per share of 94 cents. A group of analysts polled by Thomson First Call had predicted earnings of 81 cents. Total loan production volume was $95 billion for the quarter, up 25 percent from the comparable quarter last year. Purchase fundings were $47 billion for the quarter, advancing 36 percent over the year-ago period. The company said this demonstrates the success of its strategic initiative to increase volume in the less interest-rate sensitive purchase market. The company's servicing portfolio increased $193 billion over last year to a record $838 billion, Countrywide said. The company also reported year-end results, with consolidated net earnings of $2.3 billion, declining 2 percent from last year's net earning...
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