Countrywide Credit Industries Inc. posted unaudited net earnings of $85.1 million-25% more than a year earlier-for the quarter ended Feb. 28, the fourth of its fiscal year.

Basic earnings per share were 78 cents, up from 65 a year earlier. Diluted earnings came to 74 cents, up from 63.

The board declared a cash dividend of 8 cents per common share.

"Production volume and margin improvement more than offset lower servicing earnings driven by higher prepayments," said David S. Loeb, chairman.

With many customers refinancing, the annualized prepayment rate came in at 18%, in line with expectations, the company said.

Countrywide, the nation's largest independent residential mortgage lender and servicer, has a portfolio of $182.9 billion.

Its loan production in the quarter was $16.1 billion, up from $9.3 billion a year earlier.

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