Bank of New York Mellon Corp.'s fourth-quarter earnings soared as the asset manager and security adviser freed itself of the securities losses that hobbled it in past quarters.

In the third quarter, Bank of New York Mellon sold or restructured billions of dollars in risky investments, a move that hurt its bottom line at the time but set it up for fewer one-time charges or losses. The company struggled last year with investment write-downs and securities losses because of troubles at secondary businesses like those related to real estate and ongoing weakness in fee revenue.

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