Here’s Why Soaring Profits Couldn’t Lift Moody’s Stock Out of the Doldrums

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Moody’s (NYSE:MCO) may join McGraw-Hill’s (NYSE:MHP) Standard & Poor’s as a target of the Justice Department for its role in the run-up to the financial crisis, and could be drawn into a flurry of legal battles similar to the ones that depressed the earnings of financial institutions for many quarters after the government began prosecutions related to their mortgage practices.

But for now, Moody’s remains on strong footing; the firm reported Friday that fourth-quarter profit soared 66 percent, and it forecast a strong 2013.

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Net income increased to $160.1 million, or 70 cents per share, from $96.2 million, or 43 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Alongside income, revenue rose 33 percent to $754.2 million. The firm’s quarterly results received a boost as many firms refinance debt in order to take advantage of record-low interest rates that will give them access to cheap funding.

Growth in its global corporate finance business contributed to the overall gain, with its revenue increasing 73 percent to $244.9 million.

For the full year, Moody’s has predicted earnings in the range of $3.45 to $3.55 per share, with revenue expected to grow modestly. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters forecast earnings of $3.18 per share…

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