Stewart Announces First Quarter Earnings
April 28, 2005
HOUSTON, /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Stewart Information Services Corporation (NYSE: STC - News) reported results for the first quarter of 2005. Revenues for the first quarter of 2005 were the highest first quarter revenues in the company's history. Revenues were $512.6 million, an increase of 10.3 percent compared to the same period of 2004. Net earnings for the three months ended March 31, 2005 were $10.7 million, or $0.59 per diluted share, compared to net earnings of $11.1 million, or $0.61 per diluted share, for the first quarter of 2004.
Book value per share increased 0.8 percent to $38.79 as of March 31, 2005 despite a decline of $4.7 million in the company's bond portfolio, which resulted from an increase in interest rates. The unrealized losses in the portfolio were included in other comprehensive earnings, a component of the company's stockholders' equity.
Stewart's incoming orders in the first quarter of 2005 were down 1.7 percent from the same quarter a year ago. Orders in the month of March 2005 were down 8.4 percent from the same month of 2004. (These order figures are adjusted to the same number of working days.)
Although higher-margin commercial transactions increased this year, profit margins decreased slightly in the first quarter compared to the same period of 2004. Higher employee costs and continued investment in technology-driven products and new services were the primary reasons for the margin decline. Acquisitions in higher-cost markets also reduced margins in 2005. The company believes its on-going investment in technology will drive future market share, productivity and profits.
"An exciting development this quarter, announced earlier, was the nationwide rollout of PropertyInfo.com, a single point-of-access for real estate information and integrated tools critical to the real estate transaction processes," said Stewart Morris, Jr., president and co-chief executive officer. "This site brings together public records, aerial imagery, maps, and data access capabilities needed daily by real estate and title professionals. Included are access to online title searches and analyses, mapping technology, tax records, document images, geographic information systems, imagery, flood zone determinations and UCC searches. Data and services vary in depth by locality across the country," Morris said.
"Sometime in the second quarter of 2005 we expect to log the one millionth transaction on SureClose®, our 24/7 online system," added Morris. "SureClose is the most widely used transaction management system in real estate. This platform has three major benefits: managing documents in the title office, communicating with customers and archiving file information. We expect continued productivity increases and efficiencies while providing magnificent service to our customers."
Source: Stewart Information Services Corporation