WICHITA, Kan. - Fourth Financial Corp. said its earnings for the first quarter will be reduced by approximately $14.4 million, or 46 cents per fully diluted share, as a result of an after-tax loss from the recent sale of securities.

The sale allows Fourth Financial to reposition its balance sheet to strengthen future earnings prospects and reduce the company's interest rate sensitivity, the bank said.

The loss results from the sale of approximately $424 million of low- yielding, fixed-rate securities, mostly government and agency notes with an average duration of 2.7 years. "The proceeds are being used to reduce short-term borrowings and reinvest in variable rate or short-term instruments, consistent with our strategy to lower interest rate risk," said Darrell G. Knudson, Fourth Financial's chairman and chief executive.

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