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Dun & Bradstreet Shares Fall After Earnings Trail Estimates

Dun & Bradstreet Inc., the 171-year-old provider of business data and risk-management services, tumbled the most in three months after sluggish North American sales dragged down the company’s fourth-quarter results.

Shares of the Short Hills, New Jersey-based company fell 7.7 percent to $78.68 at the close in New York. The stock has gained less than 1 percent this year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has advanced 6.5 percent.

The company posted fourth-quarter earnings yesterday of $2.38 a share, excluding some items. Analysts had estimated $2.40 on average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Sales fell to $463.1 million, missing the $475.3 million predicted by analysts.

“We are disappointed with our performance particularly in North America, where we took a step back in 2012 after two years of steady improvement,” Sara Mathew, chief executive officer of Dun & Bradstreet, said in a call with investors to discuss earnings. “As you would expect, the No. 1 priority in 2013 is to stabilize our risk business and get North America back to growth.”

The stock fell the most since Nov. 15, the day Dun & Bradstreet decided against pursuing a sale of the company, according to a report by Reuters at the time. It had been working with JPMorgan Chase & Co and Credit Suisse Group to explore a deal, a person with knowledge of the situation said.

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