LandAmerica Financial Group today reported its operating results for the fourth quarter and year ended Dec. 31, 2003. The company’s 2003 full-year results were stronger than 2002’s full-year results, but the fourth quarter comparison showed significant year-over-year weakness.

The company reported operating revenue of $924 million and net income of $24.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2003 compared with operating revenue of $763 million and net income of $66.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2002. Net income on a diluted per-share basis sank to $1.32 in the recent quarter from $3.61 in the prior-year quarter.

The company reported operating revenue of $3.34 billion and net income of $192 million in 2003 compared with operating revenue of $2.53 billon and net income of $149 million in 2002. Net income per diluted share was $10.31 in the recent year and $8.04 in the prior year.

The company attributed the 63 percent decline in its fourth-quarter per-share earnings to a rapid decline in mortgage activity compared with prior periods, $6.2 million in one-time severance costs, lease terminations and reductions in title plant evaluations, $4.4 million in amortization of intangibles associated with acquisitions, and an increase in its loss provision rate.

LandAmerica Chairman and CEO Charles H. Foster Jr. said 2003 was “a record year and a building year” for the company.

The company added tax and flood services and mortgage credit reporting services last year. It also expanded its California title operations and negotiated an agreement to acquire another California title company.

The company cut approximately 1,600, or 15 percent, of its full-time employees in January and plans to cut at least $70 million this year in personnel and other costs, according to a company statement.

LandAmerica’s board of directors has approved a $50 million stock repurchase program to acquire 1.25 million shares, or approximately 7 percent, of the company’s outstanding common stock in the next 12 months. Stock purchases will be accomplished primarily on the open market with the timing subject to market conditions and SEC regulations.

The board of directors declared a quarterly dividend of $.10 per share payable on March 15, 2004, to shareholders of record on March 1, 2004.

LandAmerica Financial Group is headquartered in Richmond, Va. Its subsidiaries include Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Co., Lawyers Title Insurance Corp., Transnation Title Insurance Co., LandAmerica OneStop, LandAmerica LERETA, LandAmerica Info1, and Inspectech.

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