UPDATE 2-PHH Corp Q4 earnings beat Street; shares rise

Mon Mar 1, 2010 12:20pm EST

* Q4 EPS $1.74 vs est. $0.81

* Q4 rev more than triples to $744 mln vs est $675 mln

* Gains on mortgage loans rise 73 pct

* Net fee income rises 27 pct

* Shares rise 11 pct (Adds conference call details, updates share movement)

March 1 (Reuters) - PHH Corp (PHH.N), a provider of mortgage and fleet management services, posted fourth-quarter earnings that handily beat market expectations, helped by large gains on mortgage loans and higher fee income, sending its shares up as much as 11 percent.

On a post-earnings conference call, the company said pressure on weighted average pricing margins continued into the first quarter of 2010.

The margin fell to 131 basis points in December from 134 basis points in the third quarter, the company said.

Chief Financial Officer Sandra Bell said PHH was actively engaged in negotiations with its lenders to renew its revolver.

She added that given the relatively low outstanding and future anticipated business needs, the company expects to renew the revolver at a lower commitment level.

For the fourth quarter, net income attributable to PHH was $97 million, or $1.74 a share, compared with a loss of $216 million, or $3.98 a share, a year ago.

Revenue more than tripled to $744 million from $218 million a year ago.

Analysts on average had expected the company to earn 81 cents a share, on revenue of $675 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Gains on mortgage loans rose 73 percent to $163 million from $94 million.

Net fee income rose more than 27 percent to $97 million from $76 million.

Total expenses fell to $575 million from $596 million.

Shares of the Mount Laurel, New Jersey-based company were up $1.85 at $20.36 in morning trade Monday on the New York Stock Exchange. They touched a high of $20.53 in early trade. (Reporting by Jochelle Mendonca in Bangalore; Editing by Jarshad Kakkrakandy and Maju Samuel)

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