Shares in Countrywide Financial Corp. plummeted nearly 8 percent Tuesday after the lending giant reported poor second quarter earnings.

The nation's largest independent mortgage lender reported net income of $485 million, (81 cents per share), a 33 percent drop from $722 million ($1.15) in the same period a year earlier. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected earnings of 95 cents per share.

Revenue for the Calabasas-based lender also slipped 17 percent to $2.6 billion, also missing Wall Street's expectations of $2.86 billion.

The largest U.S. home lender also slashed its 2007 earnings outlook on expectations of "increasingly challenging" housing and mortgage markets, Countrywide's Chief Executive Angelo Mozilo said in a statement.

Countrywide also slashed its 2007 earnings forecast to a range of $2.70 to $3.30 a share, compared with a $3.50 to $4.30 range back in April.

Countrywide added to the bad news by reporting that payments were late on nearly 24 percent of subprime mortgage loans, up from 15 percent at the end of the same period in 2006.

Shares in Countrywide hit a new 52-week low Tuesday, losing $2.56, or 7.6 percent, to $31.50 in afternoon trading. So far this year, the stock has shed more than 19 percent.

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