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The phase-conjugate reflectivity attainable by degenerate four-wave mixing in an idealized saturable absorbing medium is calculated for arbitrary values of the laser intensity, laser frequency, and absorption path-length of the nonlinear medium. The influence of pump-wave absorption, including saturation and standing-wave effects, is included in the theory. The treatment is based on an analytic expression for the intensity distribution of the counterpropagating waves. The theoretical predictions differ substantially from those based on theories that ignore pump absorption effects. The results of the present calculation are used to predict the minimum laser intensity, absorption path-length, and detuning required to obtain unit reflectivity and self-oscillation.