The Big Money

April 29, 2002

Title Cos. Report Impressive First-Quarter Financial Results

Inman News Features

The nation?s booming housing markets helped companies that offer title insurance and other real estate-transaction related services post impressive--and in some cases record--financial results for the first quarter of 2002. A sampling of this week?s announcements:

Irvine, Calif.-based Fidelity National Financial (NYSE: FNF) reported net earnings of $101 million, or $1.14 per diluted share, for the three-month period ended March 31, 2002, double the net earnings of $45 million, or $0.52 cents per diluted share, the company reported for the comparable prior-year quarter. Revenue for this year?s first quarter was $1.1 billion compared with $778 million for the first quarter of 2001.

Fidelity National Financial?s five title insurance underwriters together issue approximately 30 percent of all title insurance policies nationally, according to the company, which also offers escrow, default management and exchange intermediary services, and homeowner?s and home warranty insurance. The company?s majority-owned publicly traded subsidiaries Fidelity National Information Solutions and Micro General Corp., provides real estate data products and services and real estate production and workflow software systems, respectively.

Santa Ana, Calif.-based The First American Corp. (NYSE: FAF) reported net income for 2002?s first quarter of $44.1 million, or 57 cents per diluted share, a 114 percent increase compared with 2001 first-quarter net income of $20.6 million, or 30 cents per diluted share, excluding a previously announced one-time item. Revenues for the first three months of 2002 totaled $1.04 billion, an increase of 36 percent compared with 2001 first-quarter revenues of $766.7 million.

First American provides title insurance and related services, specialty insurance, trust and related services, mortgage information, property information, credit information and screening information. The company has 22,500 employees in 1,300 offices throughout the United States and abroad.

LandAmerica Financial Group (NYSE: LFG), which also provides title insurance and other real estate-related services, announced earnings for the quarter ended March 31, 2002, of $17.4 million, or $0.93 per diluted share, compared with $6.6 million, or $.36 per diluted share, for the comparable quarter of 2001. The first quarter 2002 results included after-tax charges of $2.1 million, or $0.11 per diluted share, related primarily to office closures and restructuring at LandAmerica?s OneStop operations.

LandAmerica?s subsidiaries include Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Co., Lawyers Title Insurance Corp. and Transnation Title Insurance Co. The company has 600 offices and 10,000 agents in the United States and several other countries.

Houston-based Stewart Information Services Corp. (NYSE: STC) reported net earnings for the three months ended March 31, 2002, of $11.3 million compared with earnings of $3.1 million for the first quarter of 2001. On a diluted per share basis, net earnings were $0.63 for the first quarter of 2002 compared with $0.20 for the first quarter of 2001. Revenues for the first quarter increased 42 percent to $348 million from $246 million in the same period last year.

Stewart provides title insurance and related information services through more than 5,900 issuing locations in the United States and several international markets. The company?s other services include flood determinations, property appraisals, surveys, document preparation, property reports and background checks.

Copyright: Inman News Service

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North American Title Insurance Company (NATIC) is a seasoned title insurance underwriter, helping title agents to achieve their individual business goals for more than 50 years. Today, the company conducts real estate settlement services in 39 states and the District of Columbia through a network of experienced, independent agents.