NEW YORK (AP) _ Third-quarter earnings at brokerage firm Bear Stearns Cos. beat the estimates of Wall Street analysts, helped by strong equity and derivatives businesses.

The New York-based company said Thursday it earned $181.4 million in the three months ended Aug. 25, down 5.7 percent from $192.3 million a year earlier. After adjustments, including costs related to a deferred compensation program for senior managing directors, earnings per share were $1.32 in the quarter, up from $1.19 a year earlier.

Analysts had expected earnings of $1.19, according to a survey by First Call/Thomson Financial.

Shares in the company _ one of the nation's leading securities trading, investment banking, and brokerage firms _ rose $1.06 to $70.13 on the New York Stock Exchange.

James E. Cayne, president and chief executive officer, said earnings ``were driven predominantly by very strong performances from our equity business, which offset a weak operating environment for our fixed income and investment banking franchises.'' He also said derivatives activities grew strongly.

Investment banking revenues were $236.9 million in the quarter, down 11 percent from $266 million in the same quarter in 1999, however.

Revenues after interest expense were $1.27 billion, up 6 percent from $1.2 billion a year earlier.

For the nine months ending Aug. 25, Bear Stearns reported net income of $578 million, including a $96 million charge related to a lawsuit verdict, or $4 a share, down from $621.1 million, or $4.02 a share in 1999. Revenues after interest expense were $4.1 billion, up 6.8 percent from $3.84 billion a year earlier.

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