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Stewart Reports Earnings for the Second Quarter 2013

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- Net earnings attributable to Stewart increased $2.0 million (8.0 percent) to $26.9 million

- Earnings per diluted share increased $0.04 (3.8 percent) to $1.09

- Pretax earnings improved $17.7 million (56.5 percent) to $48.9 million

- Pretax margin improved to 9.4 percent from 6.5 percent

- On a year-to-date basis, revenues increased $72.2 million to yield a $32.7 million increase in pretax earnings, an incremental margin of 45.3 percent´╗┐

HOUSTON, July 25, 2013 -- Stewart Information Services Corporation (NYSE-STC) today reported net earnings attributable to Stewart of $26.9 million, or $1.09 per diluted share, for the second quarter 2013, representing an improvement of $2.0 million over the second quarter 2012 net earnings of $24.9 million, or $1.05 per diluted share. Pretax earnings for the second quarter 2013 were $48.9 million, an improvement of $17.7 million over the second quarter 2012's $31.2 million.

For the first six months of 2013, net earnings attributable to Stewart of $30.1 million, or $1.25 per diluted share, represent an improvement of $17.3 million over the same period in 2012. Results for the first six months of 2013 include a non-cash charge of $5.4 million, or $0.22 per share, relating to the early retirement of $37.1 million of our 6% Convertible Senior Notes due October 2014, as well as a gain of $1.7 million, or $0.07 per share, on non-title-related insurance policy proceeds (no tax benefit or expense is associated with either item; thus no tax-related earnings per share effect).

Total revenues for the second quarter 2013 were $517.2 million, an increase of $33.5 million, or 6.9 percent, from $483.7 million for the second quarter 2012. Operating revenues increased 7.0 percent to $512.8 million in the second quarter 2013 compared to $479.2 million in the second quarter 2012. Compared to second quarter 2012, title revenues increased 9.7 percent in the second quarter 2013, while mortgage services revenues decreased 22.2 percent. Total revenues for the first six months of 2013 were $940.9 million, an increase of $72.2 million, or 8.3 percent, from $868.7 million for the same period in 2012.  

"Throughout 2012 and continuing into 2013, we have diligently executed our plan to simplify our operations and align our organization to our customers' needs. This focus has resulted in improved financial performance over the last several quarters, and the second quarter 2013 continued the trend of solid financial results," said Matthew W. Morris, chief executive officer. "Our title operations delivered a 15.4 percent pretax margin, up from 9.9 percent in the prior year quarter, driven by improving transaction volume and increasing prices, as well as lower title losses. We have been able to capitalize on Texas being our home market, with strong job growth feeding ongoing population growth and the concurrent demand for housing. We further benefited from a 3.8 percent rate increase in Texas effective May 1, the first rate increase for the Texas title industry in more than 20 years."

"Although revenues and pretax margins in our mortgage services operations declined compared to the prior year quarter and this year's first quarter, the decline was anticipated and does not alter our strategy of continuing to invest in new service offerings, diversify our client base and generate sustainable revenues. We believe that we are well positioned to continue offering outsourcing services and solutions to our lending clients to help them manage the challenge of ever-increasing regulations," continued Morris.

"As always, we are mindful of developing market conditions. Late in the second quarter and continuing so far into the third quarter, we saw newly opened orders begin to decline, largely as a result of fewer refinancing transactions. Even though refinancing transactions continue to represent a lower proportion of our total direct orders than industry averages, we are actively implementing measures to control costs as closings decline. Notwithstanding the potential for a decline in revenues in the third quarter, we are continuing our plans to focus on strong resale volume and expand our direct office presence in select markets, as our new operating model allows for office expansion that is quickly profitable," concluded Mr. Morris.

Summary results of operations are as follows (dollars in millions, except per share amounts):

Second Quarter

Six Months

2013

2012

2013

2012

Total revenues

$517.2

$483.7

$940.9

$868.7

Pretax earnings before noncontrolling interests (a)

48.9

31.2

56.0

23.3

Income tax expense (b)

19.0

3.2

21.4

6.0

Net earnings attributable to Stewart

26.9

24.9

30.1

12.8

Net earnings per diluted share attributable to Stewart

1.09

1.05

1.25

0.59

 

a.

Pretax earnings before noncontrolling interests for the first six months 2013 include a $5.4 million non-cash charge relating to the early retirement of convertible senior notes partially offset by a $1.7 million gain on non-title-related insurance policy proceeds.

b.

Income tax expense for 2013 reflects a more normalized effective tax rate as a result of releasing a significant portion of a deferred tax asset valuation allowance in the fourth quarter 2012.

 

The real estate market showed steady improvement throughout the second quarter 2013, particularly in existing home sales, with the 12-month moving average seasonally-adjusted annualized sales rate increasing 10.5 percent from the same quarter 2012, and sequentially 2.6 percent from the first quarter 2013. Increasing median home prices accompanied this higher volume, rising 10.0 percent from the second quarter 2012. Refinance activity also remained strong during the quarter, driven by record low interest rates and the modified HARP program. Second quarter 2013 refinance lending increased 19.6 percent from the same quarter 2012 and increased 9.1 percent sequentially from the first quarter 2013 according to Fannie Mae. We are beginning to see a decline in refinancing orders in our direct operations as a result of the approximately 100 basis point increase in interest rates since January of this year.

Revenues from our title segment increased 9.2 percent and 24.3 percent from the second quarter 2012 and first quarter 2013, respectively. Revenues from direct operations for the second quarter 2013 increased 12.6 percent compared to the same quarter last year and increased 32.7 percent sequentially from the first quarter 2013. Our direct operations include local closing offices, commercial, and international operations. We generate commercial revenues both domestically and internationally; U.S. and Canadian commercial revenues increased 21.6 percent to $37.3 million from the second quarter 2012 and sequentially by 40.9 percent from the first quarter 2013. This was the best second quarter for commercial revenues since 2007. International operating revenues (including foreign-sourced commercial revenues) declined 6.3 percent to $30.6 million from the second quarter 2012 and increased sequentially from the first quarter 2013 by 53.6 percent.

Opened title orders in direct operations improved over the prior year period, increasing 4.2 percent from the second quarter 2012, and 10.4 percent sequentially from the first quarter 2013. Title orders closed per workday in direct operations increased 9.1 percent and 16.2 percent from the second quarter 2012 and the first quarter 2013, respectively. Title revenue per closed order in direct operations increased 3.6 percent and 11.7 percent from the second quarter 2012 and the first quarter 2013, respectively, primarily due to home price appreciation and, to a lesser extent, a rate increase in Texas that was effective May 1. Although industry-wide order counts continue to be influenced by refinancing activity driven by historically low interest rates, our overall proportion of total direct orders in the second quarter from refinancing transactions was lower than industry averages, which we expect will result in less volatility in future revenues as refinancing transactions retract.

Independent agency revenues increased 7.5 percent from the second quarter 2012 and increased 18.6 percent sequentially from the first quarter 2013. Our independent agency remittance rate improved to 18.7 percent in the second quarter 2013 from 17.6 percent in the second quarter 2012 and from 17.8 percent in the first quarter 2013. Since early 2009, we have vetted our independent agencies with the goal of achieving the highest-quality network of independent agencies. Since the fourth quarter 2008, our average annual premium revenue received per independent agency has increased more than 125 percent and we have reduced the number of independent agencies in our network by approximately 42 percent. Further, the policy loss ratio of our current independent agency network for the second quarter 2013 is less than one-fourth of its level in the fourth quarter 2008. As the operating environment for independent agencies evolves due to proposed new regulation by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and increased lender due diligence, we have taken a lead in helping our independent agencies prepare for the market changes by offering regular educational opportunities and effective solutions. We have provided leadership to the American Land Title Association in its efforts to develop title insurance and settlement company best practices. Our focus on partnering with the highest quality independent agencies in the industry should yield consistent and improving profitability.

Revenues from our mortgage services segment decreased 15.8 percent from the second quarter 2012 and decreased 9.4 percent sequentially from the first quarter 2013. The decline in revenues is largely due to the scheduled expiration of certain contracts related to providing distressed loan services. During the second quarter, preparatory work began on several recently signed contracts, which should generate revenues beginning in mid-third quarter 2013 and partially offset the revenue loss from the expiring contracts. As a result, mortgage services pretax earnings in the second quarter 2013 were $5.2 million (13.9 percent margin) as compared to $12.8 million (28.8 percent margin) in the second quarter 2012 and $9.8 million (23.8 percent margin) in the first quarter 2013. The offerings in our mortgage services segment continue to expand, with new projects and contracts within the broad category of servicing support creating a more diverse client base and providing the foundation for more sustainable revenues over market cycles. The focus is on providing mortgage process outsourcing services which are high-quality, flexible and responsive.

Title policy loss development continued to improve more than anticipated during the second quarter 2013, reflecting an ongoing decline in prior policy year loss experience as well as our continued attention to prudent risk management and emphasis on quality and profitability of our network of independent agencies. Due to this ongoing improvement, we lowered our overall loss provisioning rate effective with policies issued in the second quarter 2013, and recorded a policy loss reserve reduction of $6.6 million relating to prior policy years. As a percentage of title revenues, title losses were 5.0 percent, 8.7 percent and 6.1 percent in the second quarter 2013, second quarter 2012 and first quarter 2013, respectively. Excluding the reserve reduction and adjustments related to large claims, title losses were 5.9 percent, 7.5 percent and 6.1 percent in the second quarter 2013, second quarter 2012 and first quarter 2013, respectively. The title loss ratio in any given quarter is significantly influenced by any new large claims incurred as well as adjustments to reserves for existing large claims. Adjustments to new and existing large losses did not exceed our normal provisioning rate during the first or second quarters of 2013. Although there can be no assurances that this result for large losses will continue for the remainder of 2013, we continue to manage and resolve large claims prudently and in keeping with our commitments to our policyholders. Cash claim payments in the second quarter 2013 increased 7.4 percent over the second quarter 2012 and decreased 11.7 percent from the first quarter 2013 in which payments on previously reserved large losses had been made.

Employee costs in the second quarter 2013 increased 11.7 percent from the second quarter 2012 and increased sequentially 7.0 percent from the first quarter 2013. As a percentage of total operating revenues, employee costs were 28.5 percent, 27.4 percent, and 32.3 percent in the second quarter 2013, second quarter 2012, and first quarter 2013, respectively. Employee costs in the mortgage services segment did not substantially decline due to the preparatory work on recently signed contracts, as discussed above. Many of the employees servicing the expired contracts will be utilized for the new contracts as production ramps up in the third quarter.

Other operating expenses increased by 4.3 percent in the second quarter 2013 compared to the second quarter 2012 and increased 15.1 percent sequentially from the first quarter 2013. As a percentage of total operating revenues, other operating expenses were 14.3 percent, 14.7 percent, and 15.1 percent in the second quarter 2013, second quarter 2012, and first quarter 2013, respectively. The sequential increase in the second quarter 2013 from the first quarter 2013 is primarily due to increased variable costs associated with the 24.4 percent sequential increase in title revenues.

Cash provided by operations was $46.5 million in the second quarter 2013 compared to $39.7 million for the same period in 2012. On a year to date basis, cash provided by operations was $43.1 million, an improvement of $23.7 million, or 122.4 percent, over the first six months of 2012.

Stewart Information Services Corp. (NYSE: STC) is a leading provider of real estate services, including global residential and commercial title insurance, escrow and settlement services, lender services, underwriting, specialty insurance and other solutions that facilitate successful real estate transactions. Stewart offers personalized service, industry expertise and customized solutions for virtually any type of real estate transaction, through our direct operations, network of approved agencies and other companies within the Stewart family. Through a focus on integrity, smart growth and conservative management, Stewart remains committed to serving our customers, innovating and improving to meet their needs in an ever-changing market. ´╗┐

Forward-looking statements. Certain statements in this news release are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.  Such forward-looking statements relate to future, not past, events and often address our expected future business and financial performance.  These statements often contain words such as "expect," "anticipate," "intend," "plan," "believe," "seek," "will," "foresee" or other similar words.  Forward-looking statements by their nature are subject to various risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to be materially different than those expressed in the forward-looking statements.  These risks and uncertainties include, among other things, the tenuous economic conditions; adverse changes in the level of real estate activity; changes in mortgage interest rates, existing and new home sales, and availability of mortgage financing; our ability to respond to and implement technology changes, including the completion of the implementation of our enterprise systems; the impact of unanticipated title losses on the need to strengthen our policy loss reserves; any effect of title losses on our cash flows and financial condition; the impact of vetting our agency operations for quality and profitability; changes to the participants in the secondary mortgage market and the rate of refinancings that affect the demand for title insurance products; regulatory non-compliance, fraud or defalcations by our title insurance agencies or employees; our ability to timely and cost-effectively respond to significant industry changes and introduce new products and services; the outcome of pending litigation; the impact of changes in governmental and insurance regulations, including any future reductions in the pricing of title insurance products and services; our dependence on our operating subsidiaries as a source of cash flow; the continued realization of expense savings from our continual focus on aligning our operations to quickly adapt our costs to transaction volumes and market conditions; our ability to access the equity and debt financing markets when and if needed; our ability to grow our international operations; and our ability to respond to the actions of our competitors. These risks and uncertainties, as well as others, are discussed in more detail in our documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2012, our quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, and our Current Reports on Form 8-K. We expressly disclaim any obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained in this news release to reflect events or circumstances that may arise after the date hereof, except as may be required by applicable law.

 

STEWART INFORMATION SERVICES CORPORATION

STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS (condensed)

(In thousands of dollars, except per share amounts and except where noted)

Three months ended

June 30

Six months ended

June 30

2013

2012

2013

2012

Revenues:

Title insurance:

     Direct operations              

211,900

188,216

371,546

339,751

     Agency operations

269,898

251,139

497,560

447,460

Mortgage services

31,014

39,860

67,083

72,419

Investment income

4,285

3,408

7,928

6,535

Investment and other gains (losses) – net

123

1,089

(3,184)

2,533

517,220

483,712

940,933

868,698

Expenses:

Amounts retained by agencies

219,489

207,014

406,554

369,562

Employee costs

146,397

131,090

283,227

259,323

Other operating expenses

73,426

70,429

137,223

135,292

Title losses and related claims

24,169

38,113

47,731

69,498

Depreciation and amortization

4,221

4,563

8,578

9,088

Interest

656

1,286

1,611

2,650

468,358

452,495

884,924

845,413

Earnings before taxes and noncontrolling interests

48,862

31,217

56,009

23,285

Income tax expense

18,963

3,175

21,352

5,998

Net earnings

29,899

28,042

34,657

17,287

Less net earnings attributable to noncontrolling interests

3,000

3,131

4,552

4,533

Net earnings  attributable to Stewart

26,899

24,911

30,105

12,754

Net earnings per diluted share attributable to Stewart

1.09

1.05

1.25

0.59

Average number of dilutive shares (000)

24,885

24,388

24,709

24,367

Segment information:

Title revenues

475,428

435,485

857,842

779,593

Title pretax earnings before noncontrolling interests

73,151

43,092

103,484

57,994

Mortgage services revenues

37,322

44,338

78,516

80,928

Mortgage services pretax earnings before noncontrolling interests

5,170

12,770

14,992

20,250

Corporate revenues

4,470

3,889

4,575

8,177

Corporate pretax loss before noncontrolling interests

(29,459)

(24,645)

(62,467)

(54,959)

Selected financial information:

Cash provided by operations

46,484

39,712

43,094

19,376

Title loss payments - net of recoveries

29,737

27,682

63,419

61,198

Other comprehensive (loss) earnings

(14,333)

(1,796)

(16,778)

4,458

Number of title orders opened (000):

April

41.0

35.1

May

40.4

38.1

June

34.6

38.2

Quarter

116.0

111.4

221.1

214.7

Number of title orders closed (000):

April

27.9

25.3

May

29.6

26.7

June

27.4

27.1

Quarter

84.9

79.1

158.0

149.7

June 30

2013

December 31

2012

Stockholders' equity

634,490

580,372

Number of shares outstanding (000)

22,440

19,404

Book value per share

28.27

29.91

 

STEWART INFORMATION SERVICES CORPORATION

BALANCE SHEETS (condensed)

(In thousands of dollars)

June 30

December 31

2013

2012

Assets:

Cash and cash equivalents

208,791

196,471

Cash and cash equivalents – statutory reserve funds

7,798

12,067

     Total cash and cash equivalents

216,589

208,538

Short-term investments

36,889

37,025

Investments – statutory reserve funds

441,390

444,579

Investments – other

61,200

58,680

Receivables – premiums from agencies

41,939

45,458

Receivables – other

52,258

68,053

Allowance for uncollectible amounts

(10,780)

(12,823)

Property and equipment, net

53,416

54,714

Title plants

77,051

77,360

Goodwill

220,983

220,955

Intangible assets

5,885

7,015

Deferred tax asset

984

7,562

Other assets

74,680

74,061

1,272,484

1,291,177

Liabilities:

Notes payable

5,891

6,481

Convertible senior notes payable

27,789

64,687

Accounts payable and accrued liabilities

100,764

116,617

Estimated title losses

501,069

520,375

Deferred tax liability

2,481

2,645

637,994

710,805

Contingent liabilities and commitments

Stockholders' equity:

Common and Class B Common stock and additional paid-in capital

194,064

153,441

Retained earnings

421,553

391,447

Accumulated other comprehensive earnings

9,806

26,584

Treasury stock

(2,666)

(2,666)

     Stockholders' equity attributable to Stewart

622,757

568,806

Noncontrolling interests

11,733

11,566

     Total stockholders' equity

634,490

580,372

1,272,484

1,291,177

´╗┐


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