Conseco Inc.'s chief executive was in New York on Wednesday reassuring investors that the worst is over now that his company has taken a half- billion-dollar writedown in connection with the purchase of Green Tree Financial Corp.

The "surprises ... are going to be on the positive side, not the negative one," said Stephen Hilbert. The Carmel, Ind., company's stock has been battered since its April 6 announcement that it planned to pay a hefty premium for Green Tree, a manufactured-housing lender that suffered from accounting problems.

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