Payment and risk management firm Deluxe Corp., St. Paul, MN, reported a 5.5 percent rise in its third-quarter earnings to 58 cents per share, adjusted for charges. The company attributed its performance to strength in its direct mail check businesses. Deluxe took a third-quarter pretax charge of $70 million, or 54 cents per share, with $34 million reserved for severance payments and infrastructure cost reductions related to the company's plan to slash its work force to 14,100 by the end of the year from 18,000. The balance of the charge, $36 million, is reserved for anticipated contract losses in the company's government services operation. Including the charge, the company's earnings came in at $2.8 million, or 4 cents per diluted share, compared with a loss of $67.5 million, or 82 cents per diluted share, in the comparable period a year ago. Last year's loss included a pretax charge of $180 million, or $1.37 per share. Third-quarter 1998 revenue of $469.8 million edged the company's year-ago top line of $466.9 million.