Industry News

Title insurers fight downturn’s headwinds

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The five companies that control more than 90 percent of the title insurance business all saw double-digit decreases in revenue during the first quarter, and only the two biggest companies -- First American Corp. and Fidelity National Financial Inc. -- remained profitable. Members of the big five posting losses for the quarter were LandAmerica Financial Group Inc., Stewart Information Services Corp., and Old Republic International Corp. The five biggest title insurers saw operating revenue from title operations fall 12 percent in 2007 and could see another 20 percent drop this year, analysts at Fitch Ratings said in issuing a negative outlook for the industry in March (see story). The first-quarter results of the big five suggest Fitch analysts may be on the mark -- so far at least. Stewart Information Services Stewart said it lost $36.3 million during the first quarter as revenues fell 26 percent from a year ago, to $394.1 million. That compares with a $4.6 million loss ...