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Lexmark beats lowered 4Q estimates

After warning that fourth quarter earnings would be at the low end of expectations, computer printer maker Lexmark International Group Inc. (NYSE: LXK) said Monday fourth-quarter profits beat estimates by a nickel thanks to its stock buy-back and higher operating margins.

Lexmark said net income for the quarter was 73 cents a share, beating First Call's estimate of 68 cents a share. The stock has fallen since October, when the company said production constraints, currency fluctuation and Y2K uncertainties would result in a worse-than-expected fourth quarter.

Earnings were up 26 percent from a year earlier, at $100 million, or 73 cents per diluted share, compared with $82 million, or 58 cents a share, in the same period a year ago.

Fourth quarter revenue was $1 billion, up 11 percent from $907 million a year earlier. Without the negative impact of translating foreign currencies into U.S. dollars, revenue growth would have been 14 percent. Lexmark also said it expects 2000 earnings per share to be in line with its goal of 20 percent annual growth

Revenue growth was helped by lower effective income tax rates and higher operating margins. Lexmark's repurchase of shares also helped improve the situation; the company said it repurchased nearly 1.7 million common shares during the fourth quarter. Fewer shares outstanding contributed to improved earnings per share.

Reuters contributed to this report.