updated 4/23/2004 10:27:08 AM ET 2004-04-23T14:27:08

Xerox Corp. reported first-quarter profits of $248 million, citing strong sales of color systems and office digital products and the sell-off of its interests in a digital rights management company.

Xerox said Friday it earned 25 cents a share for the period ending March 31, compared with a loss of $65 million, or 10 cents per share, for the same period a year ago.

The earnings reflected an eight cent gain from the sales of substantially all of Xerox's ownership in ContentGuard, a digital rights technology company, to Time Warner Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

Excluding the gain, the results beat the consensus estimate of 15 cents per share of analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call by two cents a share.

Revenue in the first quarter was $3.8 billion, up 2 percent from the first quarter of 2003 when revenue was $3.7 billion.

"We began the quarter with the introduction of advanced offerings in the office and production markets that exemplify Xerox's strength as a technology powerhouse," said Anne M. Mulcahy, Xerox chairman and chief executive.

Mulcahy said the company closed the first quarter with strong sales "that prove the effectiveness of our services-led value proposition —  providing customers with practical solutions to reduce documents costs and simplify work processes."

The company reported that equipment sales gew 9 percent in the first quarter.o $14.55.

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