State Street Corp., the biggest U.S. provider of record-keeping and other services for institutional investors, said Wednesday that it expects first-quarter earnings growth to exceed analysts' estimates, because of gains from new computer conversions and foreign exchange.

Boston-based State Street, which has $667 billion of assets under management, said it expects first-quarter earnings-per-share growth to exceed the 16% posted in the first quarter of 1999, meaning that it is likely to report at least 86 cents a share. The analysts' consensus is 81 cents, according to First Call/Thomson Financial. The company reported 74 cents in the first quarter of 1999.

Ronald L. O'Kelley, the company's chief financial officer, said the boost in computer conversions comes from a backlog of business created by year-2000 computer fears. Mr. O'Kelley said he is optimistic about the company's outlook because of the increase in the "development of alternative retirement planning worldwide." State Street's customer base is growing 10% to 15% per year, Mr. O'Kelley said.

The bullish announcement comes eight months after company executives indicated in a conference call to analysts that revenue growth would slow in 1999 because of Y2K jitters.

"What we told the Street back then came to pass," said Mr. O'Kelley. "The minute the Y2K milestone was behind us, we got right back to the same type of growth rates that we have experienced for the last 22 years."

Shares of State Street rose $6.50, or 9.80%, to $72.8125.

State Street's announcement is one in a series that has helped lift bank stocks. On Monday, J.P. Morgan & Co. said profits were "significantly ahead" of the average monthly pace of last year's quarter. Also, Banc of America Securities, the investment banking arm of Bank of America Corp., said last week that it expects revenue from its technology group to be more than twice 1999's record level.

The American Banker index of the 50 largest banks rose 7.76% and its index of 225 banks rose 8.66%.

In other news, Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. shaved its 2000 and 2001 earnings estimates for Amsouth Bancorp because of the effect higher interest rates are likely to have on its net interest margin. Marni Pont O'Doherty said she expects the margin to shrink by 5 basis points from the fourth quarter. She said her cut in earnings estimates was not related to the company's acquisition of First American Corp., which it is currently integrating. Amsouth shares rose 87.5 cents, or 6.86%, to $13.635.

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