New Century Financial Corp., Irvine, Calif., has reported record net earnings of $245.5 million ($6.56 per share) for 2003, compared with $179.7 million ($4.62 per share) the year before.For the fourth quarter, the company reported record earnings of $74.1 million ($2.00 per share), compared with $54.3 million ($1.43 per share) a year earlier. Robert K. Cole, New Century's chairman and chief executive, said the company has been evaluating the potential advantages and disadvantages of converting into a real estate investment trust. "In order to assist us, we are finalizing the engagement of a financial adviser," he said. "We expect to conclude our analysis within the next 75 days." New Century can be found online at http://www.ncen.com.

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