Bear Stearns Cos. (BSC) said Thursday it was fined $250 million by the New York Stock Exchange and the Securities and Exchange Commission for fraudulent market timing and late trading of mutual funds.

The announcement came just as Bear Stearns reported record first-quarter earnings, the third Wall Street brokerage to do so this week, as profits rose 36.6 percent on strong equity trading and a jump in invesetment banking fees.

According to NYSE Regulation, the exchange's regulatory arm, Bear Stearns engaged in a pattern of deceptive market timing and late trading of fund shares from 1999 through 2003. The trades were designed to take advantage of the time between the markets' closing and the new share values posted by mutual fund companies.

Bear Stearns settled the case without admitting or denying the charges. The company will pay $90 million in fines and relinquish $160 million in profits and interest.

Shares of Bear Stearns rose $1.48, or 1.1 percent, to $135.69 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange just after the announcement.