SPRING HOUSE, Pa. - Advanta Corp., which has been shedding business lines and says it will focus exclusively on issuing credit cards to companies, said last month that its business card operations earned pretax income of $19 million in the fourth quarter, a 64% increase from the year earlier and 34% more than in the third quarter.

Chargeoffs for the quarter were 4.95%, compared to 4.83% for the previous quarter. Advanta Business Cards ended the year with managed receivables of $1.66 billion, up from $1.53 billion at the end of the third quarter and $1.04 billion at yearend 1999.

Advanta is in the process of selling its mortgage business to Chase Manhattan Mortgage Corp. and will discontinue its commercial leasing business, which lost $7.9 million in the quarter. It said it will continue to serve its current leasing portfolio but will stop originating leases.

The company, which sold its consumer card business to FleetBoston Financial Corp. in 1998, says it will focus on developing its Internet and statistical modeling tools for marketing small-business credit cards. In 1999, the company said, it got as many as 1,100 business credit card applications over the Internet per day.

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