Countrywide Credit Industries Inc. showed a strong gain in earnings for its fiscal fourth quarter, which ended Feb. 29. One stock analyst saw it as a sign that industry consolidation was beginning to improve profits for the biggest players.

Richard Strauss, an analyst at Goldman, Sachs & Co., said the increase of 9 basis points in the company's production margin over that of the preceding quarter - to 28 basis points - was a surprise because the two previous quarters were steady.

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