Stewart Information Services Corp. on Thursday reported third-quarter profits increased to $31.8 million, or $1.74 per diluted share, due to continued low interest rates, which have boosted residential and commercial closings.

Third-quarter revenues also increased to $639.4 million, up from $529.7 million a year ago.

Total revenues for the first nine months of 2005 were $1.8 billion, up 15 percent from the same period a year ago. Earnings for the first nine months totaled $79.7 million, or $4.37 per diluted share, versus $62.2 million, or $3.42 per diluted share, for the first nine months of 2004.

Title orders in the third quarter of 2005 were 16 percent greater than the same quarter a year ago. Orders in the month of September were 12 percent greater than the same month last year, the company said.

Along with favorable interest rates, the company said acquisitions also contributed to the increase in revenues.

New operations in the quarter included the launching of Stewart Insurance and Financial Services in California. Recently approved by the California Department of Insurance, this group represents a portfolio of property and casualty insurance carriers, including Allied Insurance, The Hartford and Travelers.

Stewart Default Solutions is now offering BackInTheBlack software for mortgage default and foreclosure services, meeting needs in a key segment of the market that should grow as interest rates rise. This service includes loss mitigation on non-performing mortgage loans, as well as actual foreclosure and remarketing of the pledged assets.

Stewart Information Services is a real estate information and transaction management company providing title insurance and related information services.

Stewart stock (NYSE: STC) closed at $46.77 a share on Thursday.

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to jessica@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 133.

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