Industry News

Stewart profits plummet 75%

Increased revenues offset by employee, operating costs

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Stewart Information Services Corp. Thursday reported net earnings of $2.6 million for the first quarter and earnings per share of 14 cents, down 75.7 percent from net earnings of $10.7 million and earnings per share of 59 cents in the same time period last year. Revenues increased 5.6 percent to $539.4 million in the first quarter of 2006 as compared with $511 million for the first quarter of 2005, but were "more than offset by increases primarily in employee and other operating costs," the company said. Title orders declined in the first quarter of 2006 by 8.9 percent from the same period a year ago, Stewart said, with orders 9.8 percent lower in March 2006 than in March 2005. Steady increases in mortgage interest rates were the major reason for the decline in title orders, the company said. Revenues were positively impacted by an increase in both direct and agency business, the company said, with the increase in direct operations primarily due to acquisitions and growth in commerci...