Industry News

Fidelity National fourth-quarter profit drops

Tax on title insurance unit pulls net earnings down

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Fidelity National Financial late Wednesday reported that its profit for the fourth quarter of 2005 fell 34 percent, reflecting a tax on a stock distribution for its Fidelity National Title Group title insurance unit, which went public in October. The Jacksonville, Fla.-based company said net income fell to $115.2 million, or 64 cents per share, from $174.9 million, or 98 cents. Excluding the distribution, adjusted net income totaled $215.2 million, or $1.20 per share. A group of analysts polled by Thomson Financial had forecast profit of 95 cents per share. It was not immediately clear whether that forecast was based on net or adjusted net income. Revenue rose 16 percent to $2.43 billion, topping forecasts for $2.3 billion, and expenses increased 14 percent to $2.07 billion, the company said. The company's chief executive officer, William P. Foley II, described 2005 as "a year where we spent a great deal of time and effort attempting to maximize the value of the efforts of FNF." In 2...