Freddie Mac Thursday reported fourth-quarter net income rose 16% from the year before, to $372 million. On a per-share basis, net increased 19%, to 51 cents.

For the year Freddie reported an earnings per share increase of 15%, to $1.90. The government-sponsored enterprise earned $1.4 billion, 12% more than in 1996. Earnings for the quarter and the year matched the estimates of Wall Street analysts.

Freddie Mac attributed part of the income increase to growth in the company's retained portfolio. The portfolio balance was $164.2 billion at Dec. 31, 19% higher than at yearend 1996.

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