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Title insurers ready for rebound

Fidelity, First American boost profit margins

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Massive cost-cutting measures and industry consolidation has put title insurers in a position to profit from a rebound in home sales, with the two largest companies boosting profits substantially during the second quarter.Fidelity National Financial, which became the nation's largest title insurer with its acquisition of bankrupt rival LandAmerica Financial Group Inc.'s underwriting companies in December, saw second-quarter revenue grow by 34 percent from a year ago, to $1.57 billion. Pretax profits grew more than 13-fold, to $91.9 million, the company said.Revenue from the company's title insurance division, Fidelity National Title Group, hit $1.45 billion, up 40 percent from $1.04 billion a year ago. Pretax profits of $133.3 million were up 26 times from the $5.1 million registered a year ago, with profit margins rising from 0.5 percent to 9.2 percent. Direct title orders closed totaled 524,100, up 70.4 percent percent from 307,500 a year ago.Much of Fidelity's revenue growth was att...