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Strong growth in sales from its computer hardware maintenance services helped Barrister Global Services Network narrow its third-quarter loss from continuing operations by 86 percent, the Buffalo-based company said.

The $39,000 loss, which amounted to less than a penny per share, was a sharp improvement from the loss from continuing operations of $284,000, or 2 cents per share, a year ago.

Leading the improvement was a 17 percent increase in revenues during the quarter that ended on Dec. 31 to $2.79 million from $2.38 million, led by a 39 percent surge in sales from hardware maintenance service contracts.

Barrister is reshaping its business to focus on a handful of alliances and relationships with major computer equipment makers and distributors, such as Oracle Corp. and Pioneer-Standard Electronics, to provide warranty services.

Barrister executives believe that focus will lead to rapid revenue growth, without a corresponding surge in expenses, allowing it to become profitable. Lower expenses with the company's service parts inventory helped Barrister trim its cost of services to 75 percent of sales from nearly 80 percent a year ago. Selling and administrative expenses fell to 29.9 percent of sales from 30.6 percent a year ago.

"We continue to focus on increasing the efficiency of our operations as one of the necessary steps to improve profitability," said Henry P. Semmelhack, Barrister's president and chief executive officer, in a statement.

The company sold its professional office management software business in May for $7.1 million in a move to focus solely on its services operations. Because of a $276,000 gain from the sale of that business, Barrister's total profits rose to $237,000, or 2 cents per share, during the quarter, compared with a loss of $289,000, or 2 cents per share, a year ago.

For the first three quarters of the fiscal year, Barrister's loss from continuing operations fell to $185,000, or 1 cent per share, from $1.03 million, or 10 cents per share, a year ago. Including the proceeds from the sale of the software business, Barrister earned $1.86 million, or 16 cents per share, compared with a loss of $1.05 million, or 10 cents per share, a year ago.

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