S&P Raises Fidelity National Title Insurance Group Ratings to 'A'
|May 28, 2002|
NEW YORK, /PRNewswire/ -- Standard & Poor's said today that it raised its counterparty credit and financial strength ratings on the seven title underwriters that constitute the Fidelity National Title Insurance Cos. Group (NYSE: FNF - News) to single-'A' from single-'A'-minus because of the group's position as the leading domestic U.S. title insurance writer and its industry- leading operating results.
Standard & Poor's also said that it raised its counterparty credit and senior debt ratings on the title insurers' parent, Fidelity National Financial Inc., to triple-'B' from triple-'B'-minus.
The outlook on all these companies is stable.
The group continues to outpace its industry peers because of a lower expense ratio that is driven by a greater proportion of title revenue derived from direct business. As of year-end 2001, Fidelity National was the market leader, with a 29.4% national market share. Further underscoring this leadership is the company's number one position in 23 states, including three of the four states that constitute more than half of the U.S. real estate market.
A potential challenge for the company is how it handles a downturn in the real estate sector. The continuing strong real estate environment that is currently giving it such a competitive advantage -- as demonstrated by record title industry volume in the first quarter of 2002 -- could potentially lead to a less-nimble expense structure because of the company's relative concentration in direct operations.
Standard & Poor's expects Fidelity National to continue to employ the same expense discipline that has led to its market-leader status and for the company to proactively address potential expense constraints.
A complete list of the ratings is available to RatingsDirect subscribers at http://www.ratingsdirect.com, as well as on Standard & Poor's public Web site at http://www.standardandpoors.com under Ratings Actions/Newly Released Ratings.
Source: Standard & Poor's