Stewart Announces First Quarter 2001 Results and All-Time Record Orders

Apr 26, 2001, 01:00 ET from Stewart Information Services Corporation

    HOUSTON, April 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Stewart Information Services Corporation
 (NYSE:   STC) reported net earnings for the three months ended March 31, 2001 of
 $3.1 million, compared to a loss of $3.4 million for the first quarter of
 2000.  On a diluted per share basis, net earnings were $.20 for the first
 quarter of 2001 compared to a loss of $.23 for the first quarter of 2000.
 Revenues in the first quarter increased 17 percent to $244 million from
 $208 million in the same period last year.
     "Orders in the first three months of 2001 were more than 50 percent
 greater than one year ago and represented an all-time record for any quarter
 in the company's history," said Stewart Morris, Jr., co-chief executive
 officer and president.  "March saw a particularly strong surge in orders as
 many customers sought to refinance their mortgages as interest rates declined.
 Much of our expense associated with orders is incurred as they are received,
 but we do not recognize revenues until the orders close and title policies are
 issued.  We expect a substantial portion of our first quarter orders to close
 in the second quarter, which bodes well for strong operating results for that
 quarter.
     "Multiple factors contributed to our profitability this first quarter,
 even though first quarters are historically weak.  Careful management of
 costs, improvements in leadership at every level of organization and the
 influence of strategic acquisitions made in the past 12 months all positively
 impacted the bottom line.  We also benefited from an environment of favorable
 interest rates with a corresponding surge in the refinance business," said Mr.
 Morris.
     "Acquisitions have contributed significantly to our order-count growth,"
 added Morris.  "Recent acquisitions have been the largest in company history
 in both number of acquisitions and dollar value.  To facilitate acquisitions,
 we filed a shelf registration this past quarter with the Securities and
 Exchange Commission to sell from time to time up to $75 million of common
 stock.  The registration has not yet become effective, and this release does
 not constitute an offer of any securities for sale.  Future acquisitions will
 continue to be consistent with our objective of completing transactions that
 are accretive to our earnings per share."
     "Commercial business continues to make an increasing contribution to our
 bottom line.  Stewart's National Title Services (NTS) offices have grown to
 18 locations across the country.  NTS targets national and international
 affiliations and services multi-site commercial accounts as well as the
 nationwide relocation market," said Malcolm S. Morris, chairman of the board
 and co-chief executive officer.
     "Our balance sheet remains strong, with the best financial ratings among
 the largest underwriters.  LACE Title Rating Corporation again designated
 Stewart Title Guaranty Company as having the industry's largest Commercial
 Capacity Rating, reflecting our commitment to consistently increase the
 financial backing of our policies," added Morris.  "Our balance sheet has
 expanded with an unprecedented industry record 26 years of growth in reserves
 and surplus.  This reflects the company's commitment to our policyholders and
 remains a key element in growing our commercial market share.
     "We have conducted a review of the profit and cost centers in the company,
 the results of which have enhanced the organization, management and
 profitability of many subsidiaries.  We substantially reorganized our real
 estate information (REI) segment, and expanded and refined our product lines,"
 Morris said.
     The international operations of the company remain profitable and
 represents a small but increasing portion of revenues, with recent operation
 startups in Poland and the Dominican Republic.  Stewart also has ongoing
 operations in Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, the United Kingdom, Israel, Slovakia
 and the Caribbean.
     "The industry continues to recognize our company as the technology leader.
 Stewart Morris, Jr. was recently named the recipient of Settlement Services
 Today's 2001 Outstanding Achievement Award in recognition of his
 accomplishment, leadership, creativity, and support for technological
 advancement in the settlement services industry," said Malcolm Morris.
     "Over the last two years, we made a strategic decision to invest in the
 commercial area of our business, technology and new services.  While we
 sacrificed short-term earnings, we positioned ourselves for long-term growth,"
 said Morris. "While continuing to emphasize those same goals, we are now in a
 position to begin reaping the profits from those investments.  We expect a
 strong performance in 2001."
     Stewart Information Services Corporation is a technology driven,
 strategically competitive, global real estate information company.  Stewart
 provides title insurance and related information services through more than
 5,400 issuing locations in the United States and several international
 markets.  Stewart meets the needs of the real estate and mortgage industries
 through the delivery of information services required for settlement using
 e-commerce.  These services include title reports, flood determinations,
 property appraisals, surveys, document preparation, property reports and
 background checks.  Stewart also supplies post-closing services to lenders,
 automated county clerk land records and GIS for governmental entities.
 Stewart provides expertise in tax-deferred exchanges.  More information about
 Stewart can be found at www.stewart.com.
 
 
      Stewart Information Services Corporation
                                                          Three months
                                                          ended March 31
                                                       2001           2000
 
     Revenues                                   $ 244,301,000  $ 208,203,000
     Net earnings (loss)                           $3,073,000    $(3,354,000)
     Average shares - diluted                      15,268,000     14,811,000
     Earnings (loss) per share:
       Basic                                           $ 0.20         $(0.23)
       Diluted                                         $ 0.20         $(0.23)
 
 
      STEWART INFORMATION SERVICES CORPORATION
      STATEMENTS OF EARNINGS
      (In thousands of dollars)
 
                                                        Three months ended
                                                             March 31
                                                        2001           2000
     Revenues
     Title premiums, fees and other revenues          223,941        191,582
     Real estate information services                  14,462         12,199
     Investment income                                  5,545          4,762
     Investment gains (losses) - net                      353           (340)
                                                      244,301        208,203
 
     Expenses
     Amounts retained by agents                       101,044         90,839
     Employee costs                                    79,352         68,674
     Other operating expenses                          42,150         39,061
     Title losses                                       9,595          8,560
     Depreciation and amortization                      5,268          5,091
     Interest                                             659            381
     Minority interests                                 1,225            944
                                                      239,293        213,550
 
     Earnings (loss) before taxes                       5,008         (5,347)
     Income taxes (benefit)                             1,935         (1,993)
         Net earnings (loss)                            3,073         (3,354)
 
     Average number diluted shares (000)               15,268         14,811
 
     Earnings per share - diluted                         .20           (.23)
 
     Segment information:
       Title revenues                                 229,839        196,004
       Title pretax earnings (loss)                     4,345         (3,656)
 
       REI revenues                                    14,462         12,199
       REI pretax earnings (loss)                         663         (1,691)
 
     Selected financial information (000):
       Premiums earned from agents                    123,722        112,995
       Title loss payments - net                        7,918          8,520
       Change in unrealized investment gains
        (losses) - net of taxes                         2,155            544
       Average number basic shares                     15,110         14,716
       Number of title orders opened                      155            101
 
 
      STEWART INFORMATION SERVICES CORPORATION
      BALANCE SHEETS (condensed)
      (In thousands of dollars)
 
                                                      March 31      December 31
                                                        2001           2000
     Assets
       Cash and cash equivalents                       44,985         35,728
       Short-term investments                          48,914         53,748
       Investments - statutory reserve funds          212,548        206,150
       Investments - other                             48,750         52,242
       Receivables                                     51,678         57,039
       Property and equipment                          44,753         45,459
       Title plants                                    33,524         32,491
       Goodwill                                        47,348         36,693
       Deferred income taxes                            7,318          7,352
       Other                                           35,996         36,546
                                                      575,814        563,448
 
     Liabilities
       Notes payable                                   40,806         32,543
       Accounts payable and accrued liabilities        33,086         38,617
       Estimated title losses                         191,725        190,298
       Minority interests                               7,129          6,901
 
     Contingent liabilities and commitments
 
     Stockholders' equity
       Common and Class B Common Stock and
        additional paid-in capital                     87,404         84,563
       Retained earnings                              213,133        210,060
       Accumulated other comprehensive earnings         4,043          1,888
       Treasury stock                                  (1,512)        (1,512)
 
       Total stockholders' equity
        ($19.91 per share at March 31, 2001)          303,068        295,089
                                                      575,814        535,741
 
      April 26, 2001
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X71717734
 
 

SOURCE Stewart Information Services Corporation
    HOUSTON, April 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Stewart Information Services Corporation
 (NYSE:   STC) reported net earnings for the three months ended March 31, 2001 of
 $3.1 million, compared to a loss of $3.4 million for the first quarter of
 2000.  On a diluted per share basis, net earnings were $.20 for the first
 quarter of 2001 compared to a loss of $.23 for the first quarter of 2000.
 Revenues in the first quarter increased 17 percent to $244 million from
 $208 million in the same period last year.
     "Orders in the first three months of 2001 were more than 50 percent
 greater than one year ago and represented an all-time record for any quarter
 in the company's history," said Stewart Morris, Jr., co-chief executive
 officer and president.  "March saw a particularly strong surge in orders as
 many customers sought to refinance their mortgages as interest rates declined.
 Much of our expense associated with orders is incurred as they are received,
 but we do not recognize revenues until the orders close and title policies are
 issued.  We expect a substantial portion of our first quarter orders to close
 in the second quarter, which bodes well for strong operating results for that
 quarter.
     "Multiple factors contributed to our profitability this first quarter,
 even though first quarters are historically weak.  Careful management of
 costs, improvements in leadership at every level of organization and the
 influence of strategic acquisitions made in the past 12 months all positively
 impacted the bottom line.  We also benefited from an environment of favorable
 interest rates with a corresponding surge in the refinance business," said Mr.
 Morris.
     "Acquisitions have contributed significantly to our order-count growth,"
 added Morris.  "Recent acquisitions have been the largest in company history
 in both number of acquisitions and dollar value.  To facilitate acquisitions,
 we filed a shelf registration this past quarter with the Securities and
 Exchange Commission to sell from time to time up to $75 million of common
 stock.  The registration has not yet become effective, and this release does
 not constitute an offer of any securities for sale.  Future acquisitions will
 continue to be consistent with our objective of completing transactions that
 are accretive to our earnings per share."
     "Commercial business continues to make an increasing contribution to our
 bottom line.  Stewart's National Title Services (NTS) offices have grown to
 18 locations across the country.  NTS targets national and international
 affiliations and services multi-site commercial accounts as well as the
 nationwide relocation market," said Malcolm S. Morris, chairman of the board
 and co-chief executive officer.
     "Our balance sheet remains strong, with the best financial ratings among
 the largest underwriters.  LACE Title Rating Corporation again designated
 Stewart Title Guaranty Company as having the industry's largest Commercial
 Capacity Rating, reflecting our commitment to consistently increase the
 financial backing of our policies," added Morris.  "Our balance sheet has
 expanded with an unprecedented industry record 26 years of growth in reserves
 and surplus.  This reflects the company's commitment to our policyholders and
 remains a key element in growing our commercial market share.
     "We have conducted a review of the profit and cost centers in the company,
 the results of which have enhanced the organization, management and
 profitability of many subsidiaries.  We substantially reorganized our real
 estate information (REI) segment, and expanded and refined our product lines,"
 Morris said.
     The international operations of the company remain profitable and
 represents a small but increasing portion of revenues, with recent operation
 startups in Poland and the Dominican Republic.  Stewart also has ongoing
 operations in Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, the United Kingdom, Israel, Slovakia
 and the Caribbean.
     "The industry continues to recognize our company as the technology leader.
 Stewart Morris, Jr. was recently named the recipient of Settlement Services
 Today's 2001 Outstanding Achievement Award in recognition of his
 accomplishment, leadership, creativity, and support for technological
 advancement in the settlement services industry," said Malcolm Morris.
     "Over the last two years, we made a strategic decision to invest in the
 commercial area of our business, technology and new services.  While we
 sacrificed short-term earnings, we positioned ourselves for long-term growth,"
 said Morris. "While continuing to emphasize those same goals, we are now in a
 position to begin reaping the profits from those investments.  We expect a
 strong performance in 2001."
     Stewart Information Services Corporation is a technology driven,
 strategically competitive, global real estate information company.  Stewart
 provides title insurance and related information services through more than
 5,400 issuing locations in the United States and several international
 markets.  Stewart meets the needs of the real estate and mortgage industries
 through the delivery of information services required for settlement using
 e-commerce.  These services include title reports, flood determinations,
 property appraisals, surveys, document preparation, property reports and
 background checks.  Stewart also supplies post-closing services to lenders,
 automated county clerk land records and GIS for governmental entities.
 Stewart provides expertise in tax-deferred exchanges.  More information about
 Stewart can be found at www.stewart.com.
 
 
      Stewart Information Services Corporation
                                                          Three months
                                                          ended March 31
                                                       2001           2000
 
     Revenues                                   $ 244,301,000  $ 208,203,000
     Net earnings (loss)                           $3,073,000    $(3,354,000)
     Average shares - diluted                      15,268,000     14,811,000
     Earnings (loss) per share:
       Basic                                           $ 0.20         $(0.23)
       Diluted                                         $ 0.20         $(0.23)
 
 
      STEWART INFORMATION SERVICES CORPORATION
      STATEMENTS OF EARNINGS
      (In thousands of dollars)
 
                                                        Three months ended
                                                             March 31
                                                        2001           2000
     Revenues
     Title premiums, fees and other revenues          223,941        191,582
     Real estate information services                  14,462         12,199
     Investment income                                  5,545          4,762
     Investment gains (losses) - net                      353           (340)
                                                      244,301        208,203
 
     Expenses
     Amounts retained by agents                       101,044         90,839
     Employee costs                                    79,352         68,674
     Other operating expenses                          42,150         39,061
     Title losses                                       9,595          8,560
     Depreciation and amortization                      5,268          5,091
     Interest                                             659            381
     Minority interests                                 1,225            944
                                                      239,293        213,550
 
     Earnings (loss) before taxes                       5,008         (5,347)
     Income taxes (benefit)                             1,935         (1,993)
         Net earnings (loss)                            3,073         (3,354)
 
     Average number diluted shares (000)               15,268         14,811
 
     Earnings per share - diluted                         .20           (.23)
 
     Segment information:
       Title revenues                                 229,839        196,004
       Title pretax earnings (loss)                     4,345         (3,656)
 
       REI revenues                                    14,462         12,199
       REI pretax earnings (loss)                         663         (1,691)
 
     Selected financial information (000):
       Premiums earned from agents                    123,722        112,995
       Title loss payments - net                        7,918          8,520
       Change in unrealized investment gains
        (losses) - net of taxes                         2,155            544
       Average number basic shares                     15,110         14,716
       Number of title orders opened                      155            101
 
 
      STEWART INFORMATION SERVICES CORPORATION
      BALANCE SHEETS (condensed)
      (In thousands of dollars)
 
                                                      March 31      December 31
                                                        2001           2000
     Assets
       Cash and cash equivalents                       44,985         35,728
       Short-term investments                          48,914         53,748
       Investments - statutory reserve funds          212,548        206,150
       Investments - other                             48,750         52,242
       Receivables                                     51,678         57,039
       Property and equipment                          44,753         45,459
       Title plants                                    33,524         32,491
       Goodwill                                        47,348         36,693
       Deferred income taxes                            7,318          7,352
       Other                                           35,996         36,546
                                                      575,814        563,448
 
     Liabilities
       Notes payable                                   40,806         32,543
       Accounts payable and accrued liabilities        33,086         38,617
       Estimated title losses                         191,725        190,298
       Minority interests                               7,129          6,901
 
     Contingent liabilities and commitments
 
     Stockholders' equity
       Common and Class B Common Stock and
        additional paid-in capital                     87,404         84,563
       Retained earnings                              213,133        210,060
       Accumulated other comprehensive earnings         4,043          1,888
       Treasury stock                                  (1,512)        (1,512)
 
       Total stockholders' equity
        ($19.91 per share at March 31, 2001)          303,068        295,089
                                                      575,814        535,741
 
      April 26, 2001
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X71717734
 
 SOURCE  Stewart Information Services Corporation