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Stewart Reports Fourth Quarter 2017 Results

- Total revenues of $525.7 million, increased 5 percent sequentially; in-line with prior year quarter

- Net income attributable to Stewart of $15.1 million, compared to $16.7 million in the prior year quarter

- Commercial revenues of $71.5 million, increased 23 percent from the prior year quarter

- Total cash from operations of $60.0 million, increased 2 percent from the prior year quarter

- The Company continues its strategic alternatives review process

HOUSTON, Feb. 8, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Stewart Information Services Corporation (STC) today reported net income attributable to Stewart of $15.1 million ($0.64 per diluted share) for the fourth quarter 2017 compared to net income attributable to Stewart of $16.7 million ($0.71 per diluted share) for the fourth quarter 2016. Pretax income before noncontrolling interests for the fourth quarter 2017 was $17.5 million compared to pretax income before noncontrolling interests of $23.0 million for the fourth quarter 2016.

Fourth quarter 2017 results included:

  • $2.9 million of third party advisory expenses recorded in other operating expenses in the ancillary services and corporate segment relating to our previously announced review of strategic alternatives,
  • $3.5 million of office closure costs, primarily lease termination and litigation expenses, recorded in other operating expenses in the title segment,
  • $1.7 million of executive severance and retention expenses recorded in employee costs in the title and ancillary services and corporate segments,
  • $1.0 million of acquisition integration expenses recorded in other operating expenses in the title segment, and
  • $6.6 million of net income tax benefits related to the effects of the recently-enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Fourth quarter 2016 results included:

  • $5.4 million of net realized losses, primarily related to realized losses on the sale of assets related to certain ancillary services business lines, and
  • $2.4 million of income tax benefits related to previously unrecognized tax credits.

"We were pleased with the 5 percent sequential increase in revenues this quarter, as broad-based commercial strength and contributions from new business producers helped offset overall market weakness," noted Matthew Morris, chief executive officer. "We continue to be encouraged by the success of our recruiting efforts in replacing revenue impacted by staff departures earlier in the year as well as expanding further in our high priority markets. While investing in this growth temporarily elevated our expenses in 2017, we enter 2018 with strong momentum and improving productivity, ready to take advantage of improving residential purchase trends and continued penetration in the commercial market."

Review of Strategic Alternatives
In our third quarter 2017 earnings release, we noted that Stewart's Board of Directors had formed a strategic committee to actively assess the full range of available strategic alternatives. That review continues and while there is no timeframe on its conclusion, its completion is of the highest priority. As noted in November, given the ongoing review, there can be no assurance that this process will result in any particular outcome.

Selected Financial Information
Summary results of operations are as follows (dollars in millions, except per share amounts):


Quarter Ended Dec. 31,


Year Ended Dec. 31,


2017

2016


2017

2016







Total revenues

525.7

525.8


1,955.7

2,006.6

Pretax income before noncontrolling interests

17.5

23.0


75.1

88.0

Income tax (benefit) expense

(0.6)

2.8


14.9

19.6

Net income attributable to Stewart

15.1

16.7


48.7

55.5

Net income per diluted share attributable to Stewart

0.64

0.71


2.06

1.85(1)

(1) As previously reported, during the second quarter 2016, Stewart paid a $12.0 million cash consideration to the holders of our Class B Common Stock as part of the exchange agreement announced during that quarter. Excluding this cash payment, the adjusted net income per diluted share for the full year 2016 was $2.36. Under U.S. GAAP, the $12.0 million payment was recorded as a reduction to retained earnings, similar to a preferred stock dividend, but did not reduce the net income attributable to Stewart. However, the payment reduced the net income used in the calculation of basic and diluted earnings per share.

Title Segment
Summary results of the title segment are as follows (dollars in millions, except pretax margin):


Quarter Ended Dec. 31,


2017

2016

Change





Total revenues

514.6

511.6

1%

Pretax income

27.0

38.1

(29)%

Pretax margin

5.2%

7.4%


Total title revenues for the fourth quarter 2017 were slightly higher than the prior year quarter, while pretax income declined $11.1 million for the fourth quarter 2017 compared to the fourth quarter 2016. The lower pretax income was primarily due to increased employee costs related to our investment in stabilizing and growing target markets, a lower agency remittance rate and slightly higher title loss expense as a percent of title revenues. Also included in the segment's results for the fourth quarter 2017, as discussed above, are approximately $3.5 million of office closure costs and $1.0 million related to acquisition integration costs.

Direct title revenue information is presented below (dollars in millions):


Quarter Ended Dec. 31,


2017

2016

Change





Non-commercial:




Domestic

134.0

148.3

(10)%

International

21.0

23.8

(12)%

Commercial:




Domestic

59.1

52.7

12%

International

12.4

5.4

130%

Total direct title revenues

226.5

230.2

(2)%

Non-commercial domestic revenue includes revenues from purchase transactions and centralized title operations (processing primarily refinancing and default title orders), which decreased 7 percent and 33 percent, respectively, in the fourth quarter 2017 compared to the prior year. Total commercial revenues improved 23 percent from the prior year quarter, driven by domestic strength across multiple geographies and an increased contribution from our international operations. Total international title revenues increased 14 percent in the fourth quarter 2017 compared to the prior year quarter driven by higher commercial revenues and stronger foreign exchange rates against the U.S. dollar, partially offset by lower non-commercial transaction volume.

Gross revenues from independent agency operations in the fourth quarter 2017 increased 1 percent compared to the fourth quarter 2016. The independent agency remittance rate decreased to 17.2 percent in the fourth quarter 2017 from 18.2 percent in the prior year quarter as a result of the geographic mix of our agency business (decreased revenues in higher-remitting states and increased revenues in lower-remitting states); revenues, net of agency retention, decreased 4 percent in the fourth quarter 2017 compared to the prior year quarter.

Ancillary Services and Corporate Segment
Summary results of the ancillary services and corporate segment are as follows (dollars in millions):


Quarter Ended Dec. 31,


2017

2016

Change





Total revenues

11.1

14.2

(22)%

Pretax loss

(9.6)

(15.1)

37%

The decline in fourth quarter 2017 segment revenues compared to the prior year quarter was primarily due to the divestitures from certain ancillary services lines of business at the end of 2016 and lower revenues generated by the valuation services operations in the current year quarter.

The segment's pretax results for the fourth quarter 2017 improved to a $9.6 million pretax loss, which included $2.9 million of expenses relating to our strategic alternatives review, compared to the prior year quarter's pretax loss of $15.1 million, which included net realized losses of $4.9 million primarily related to the sale of certain ancillary services business lines and early lease termination costs. This improvement was primarily due to the higher reduction in overall segment expenses relative to the decrease in revenues. The segment's results for the fourth quarter 2017 and 2016 included approximately $8.8 million and $6.4 million, respectively, of net expenses attributable to parent company and corporate operations.

Expenses
Employee costs of $147.0 million for the fourth quarter 2017 were comparable to the prior year quarter. Salaries declined as a result of an approximately 7 percent reduction in average employee counts, primarily related to volume declines in our ancillary services and centralized title operations and staff departures in direct operations during the second quarter 2017. This decline was offset by higher commissions and incentive compensation during the fourth quarter 2017, driven by higher commercial revenues, increased value of performance-based stock compensation and increased recruiting efforts to replace departed staff in direct operations. As a percentage of total operating revenues, employee costs for the fourth quarter 2017 were 28.4 percent compared to 27.9 percent in the prior year quarter.

Other operating expenses of $95.9 million for the fourth quarter 2017 were also comparable to the fourth quarter 2016. Outside title search fees, costs of services within ancillary services and centralized title operations and bad debt expense decreased, offset by increased technology costs and third-party advisory fees. As a percentage of total operating revenues, other operating expenses for the fourth quarter 2017 were 18.5 percent compared to 18.2 percent in the fourth quarter 2016. As noted earlier, other operating costs for the fourth quarter 2017 included approximately $3.5 million of office closure costs, $2.9 million of expenses related to our strategic alternatives review and $1.0 million of acquisition integration costs; excluding these charges, the other operating expenses ratio for the fourth quarter 2017 was 17.1 percent, an improvement of 110 basis points from the prior year quarter.

Title loss expenses increased to $25.9 million in the fourth quarter 2017, compared to $24.5 million in the fourth quarter 2016. Title losses were 5.1 percent of title revenues in the fourth quarter 2017 compared to 4.8 percent in the fourth quarter 2016. Looking ahead in 2018, we expect our loss provisioning rate will be approximately 4.8 percent.

Depreciation and amortization expenses decreased to $6.5 million in the fourth quarter 2017 from $7.3 million in the fourth quarter 2016, primarily due to lower amortization expenses resulting from the disposal of certain intangible assets related to the divestitures of several lines of the ancillary services business during the fourth quarter 2016.

Other
Net cash provided by operations in the fourth quarter 2017 increased to $60.0 million, from $59.0 million in the prior year quarter, due primarily to lower claims payments, partially offset by the lower net income generated during the fourth quarter 2017.

Fourth quarter Earnings Call
Stewart will hold a conference call to discuss the fourth quarter 2017 earnings at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, February 8, 2018. To participate, dial (866) 342-8591 (USA) and (203) 518-9822 (International) - access code STCQ417. Additionally, participants can listen to the conference call through Stewart's Investor Relations website at http://www.stewart.com/en/investor-relations/earnings-call.html. The conference call replay will be available from 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time on February 8, 2018 until midnight on February 15, 2018, by dialing (800) 374-0328 (USA) or (402) 220-0663 (International) - the access code is also STCQ417.

About Stewart
Stewart Information Services Corporation (STC) is a global real estate services company, offering products and services through our direct operations, network of Stewart Trusted Providers™ and family of companies. From residential and commercial title insurance and closing and settlement services to specialized offerings for the mortgage industry, we offer the comprehensive service, deep expertise and solutions our customers need for any real estate transaction. At Stewart, we believe in building strong relationships – and these partnerships are the cornerstone of every closing, every transaction and every deal. Stewart. Real partners. Real possibilities.™ More information is available at the Company's website at stewart.com, or you can subscribe to the Stewart blog at blog.stewart.com, or follow Stewart on Twitter® @stewarttitleco.

Forward-looking statements. Certain statements in this news release are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such forward-looking statements relate to future, not past, events and often address our expected future business and financial performance.  These statements often contain words such as "expect," "anticipate," "intend," "plan," "believe," "seek," "will," "foresee" or other similar words. Forward-looking statements by their nature are subject to various risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to be materially different than those expressed in the forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, among other things, the challenging economic conditions; adverse changes in the level of real estate activity; changes in mortgage interest rates, existing and new home sales, and availability of mortgage financing; our ability to respond to and implement technology changes, including the completion of the implementation of our enterprise systems; the impact of unanticipated title losses or the need to strengthen our policy loss reserves; any effect of title losses on our cash flows and financial condition; the ability to attract and retain highly productive sales associates; the impact of vetting our agency operations for quality and profitability; independent agency remittance rates; changes to the participants in the secondary mortgage market and the rate of refinancing that affects the demand for title insurance products; regulatory non-compliance, fraud or defalcations by our title insurance agencies or employees; our ability to timely and cost-effectively respond to significant industry changes and introduce new products and services; the outcome of pending litigation; the impact of changes in governmental and insurance regulations, including any future reductions in the pricing of title insurance products and services; our dependence on our operating subsidiaries as a source of cash flow; the continued realization of expense savings from our cost management program; our ability to successfully integrate acquired businesses; our ability to access the equity and debt financing markets when and if needed; our ability to grow our international operations; seasonality and weather; and our ability to respond to the actions of our competitors. These risks and uncertainties, as well as others, are discussed in more detail in our documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2016, and if applicable, our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, and our Current Reports on Form 8-K. All forward-looking statements included in this news release are expressly qualified in their entirety by such cautionary statements. We expressly disclaim any obligation to update, amend or clarify any forward-looking statements contained in this news release to reflect events or circumstances that may arise after the date hereof, except as may be required by applicable law.

 

STEWART INFORMATION SERVICES CORPORATION
CONDENSED STATEMENTS OF INCOME
(In thousands of dollars, except per share amounts and except where noted)



Quarter Ended Dec. 31,
(Unaudited)


Year Ended Dec. 31,


2017

2016


2017

2016

Revenues:






Title revenues:






Direct operations

226,472

230,185


862,392

894,313

Agency operations

280,055

277,477


1,016,356

1,009,797

Ancillary services

10,741

18,995


55,837

84,271

Total operating revenues

517,268

526,657


1,934,585

1,988,381

Investment income

4,753

4,480


18,932

18,925

Realized investment and other gains (losses) - net

3,643

(5,373)


2,207

(666)


525,664

525,764


1,955,724

2,006,640

Expenses:






Amounts retained by agencies

231,908

227,107


837,100

826,022

Employee costs

146,994

147,187


566,178

604,353

Other operating expenses

95,917

95,776


351,511

363,986

Title losses and related claims

25,941

24,535


96,532

91,147

Depreciation and amortization

6,481

7,316


25,878

30,044

Interest

966

825


3,458

3,062


508,207

502,746


1,880,657

1,918,614

Income before taxes and noncontrolling interests

17,457

23,018


75,067

88,026

Income tax (benefit) expense

(615)

2,826


14,921

19,605

Net income

18,072

20,192


60,146

68,421

Less net income attributable to noncontrolling interests

3,012

3,493


11,487

12,943

Net income attributable to Stewart

15,060

16,699


48,659

55,478







Net earnings per diluted share attributable to Stewart

0.64

0.71


2.06

1.85

Diluted average shares outstanding (000)

23,598

23,492


23,597

23,472







Selected financial information:






Net cash provided by operations

60,020

58,976


108,068

122,962

Other comprehensive (loss) income

(2,729)

(15,372)


8,034

(4,924)

 

Monthly Order Counts:

Opened Orders 2017:

Oct

Nov

Dec

Total


Closed Orders 2017:

Oct

Nov

Dec

Total

Commercial

3,469

3,512

2,967

9,948


Commercial

2,310

2,291

2,549

7,150

Purchase

20,050

16,755

13,599

50,404


Purchase

15,132

14,015

14,389

43,536

Refinancing

8,802

8,310

7,084

24,196


Refinancing

6,504

5,899

6,011

18,414

Other

1,322

1,589

1,115

4,026


Other

860

661

797

2,318

Total

33,643

30,166

24,765

88,574


Total

24,806

22,866

23,746

71,418












Opened Orders 2016:

Oct

Nov

Dec

Total


Closed Orders 2016:

Oct

Nov

Dec

Total

Commercial

3,542

3,845

3,832

11,219


Commercial

2,401

2,564

2,925

7,890

Purchase

19,012

17,971

15,089

52,072


Purchase

15,801

14,812

15,861

46,474

Refinancing

12,625

11,766

8,995

33,386


Refinancing

9,596

9,471

9,425

28,492

Other

956

799

861

2,616


Other

1,402

1,206

1,450

4,058

Total

36,135

34,381

28,777

99,293


Total

29,200

28,053

29,661

86,914

 

STEWART INFORMATION SERVICES CORPORATION
CONDENSED BALANCE SHEETS AS OF DECEMBER 31
(In thousands of dollars)



2017

2016

Assets:



Cash and cash equivalents

150,079

185,772

Short-term investments

24,463

22,239

Investments in debt and equity securities available-for-sale, at fair value

709,355

631,503

Receivables – premiums from agencies

27,903

31,246

Receivables – other

55,769

50,177

Allowance for uncollectible amounts

(5,156)

(9,647)

Property and equipment, net

67,022

70,506

Title plants, at cost

74,237

75,313

Goodwill

231,428

217,094

Intangible assets, net of amortization

9,734

10,890

Deferred tax assets

4,186

3,860

Other assets

56,866

52,771


1,405,886

1,341,724

Liabilities:



Notes payable

109,312

106,808

Accounts payable and accrued liabilities

117,740

115,640

Estimated title losses

480,990

462,572

Deferred tax liabilities

19,034

7,856


727,076

692,876

Stockholders' equity:



Common Stock and additional paid-in capital

184,026

180,959

Retained earnings

491,698

471,788

Accumulated other comprehensive loss

(847)

(8,881)

Treasury stock

(2,666)

(2,666)

Stockholders' equity attributable to Stewart

672,211

641,200

Noncontrolling interests

6,599

7,648

Total stockholders' equity

678,810

648,848


1,405,886

1,341,724




Number of shares outstanding (000)

23,720

23,431

Book value per share

28.62

27.69

 


STEWART INFORMATION SERVICES CORPORATION
SEGMENT INFORMATION
(In thousands of dollars)


Quarter Ended:

December 31, 2017


December 31, 2016


Title

Ancillary
Services
and
Corporate

Consolidated


Title

Ancillary
Services
and
Corporate

Consolidated

Revenues:








Operating revenues

506,442

10,826

517,268


507,572

19,085

526,657

Investment income

4,753

-

4,753


4,480

-

4,480

Realized investment and other gains (losses) - net

3,411

232

3,643


(491)

(4,882)

(5,373)


514,606

11,058

525,664


511,561

14,203

525,764

Expenses:








Amounts retained by agencies

231,908

-

231,908


227,107

-

227,107

Employee costs

137,629

9,365

146,994


133,278

13,909

147,187

Other operating expenses

86,814

9,103

95,917


83,001

12,775

95,776

Title losses and related claims

25,941

-

25,941


24,535

-

24,535

Depreciation and amortization

5,303

1,178

6,481


5,535

1,781

7,316

Interest

1

965

966


3

822

825


487,596

20,611

508,207


473,459

29,287

502,746

Income (loss) before taxes

27,010

(9,553)

17,457


38,102

(15,084)

23,018

 

Year Ended:

December 31, 2017


December 31, 2016


Title

Ancillary
Services
and
Corporate

Consolidated


Title

Ancillary
Services
and
Corporate

Consolidated

Revenues:








Operating revenues

1,878,574

56,011

1,934,585


1,903,536

84,845

1,988,381

Investment income

18,932

-

18,932


18,925

-

18,925

Realized investment and other gains (losses) - net

1,956

251

2,207


(39)

(627)

(666)


1,899,462

56,262

1,955,724


1,922,422

84,218

2,006,640

Expenses:








Amounts retained by agencies

837,100

-

837,100


826,022

-

826,022

Employee costs

528,317

37,861

566,178


538,606

65,747

604,353

Other operating expenses

312,761

38,750

351,511


306,384

57,602

363,986

Title losses and related claims

96,532

-

96,532


91,147

-

91,147

Depreciation and amortization

21,384

4,494

25,878


21,176

8,868

30,044

Interest

7

3,451

3,458


4

3,058

3,062


1,796,101

84,556

1,880,657


1,783,339

135,275

1,918,614

Income (loss) before taxes

103,361

(28,294)

75,067


139,083

(51,057)

88,026

Appendix A
Adjusted revenues and adjusted EBITDA

Management uses a variety of financial and operational measurements other than its financial statements prepared in accordance with United States Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) to analyze its performance. These include: (1) adjusted revenues, which are reported revenues adjusted for any net realized gains and losses and (2) net income after earnings from noncontrolling interests and before interest expense, income tax expense, and depreciation and amortization and adjusted for net realized investment and other gains and losses, certain significant litigation expenses and other non-operating costs such as third-party advisory costs, component exit-related costs and prior policy year reserve adjustments (adjusted EBITDA). Management views these measures as important performance measures of core profitability for its operations and as key components of its internal financial reporting. Management believes investors benefit from having access to the same financial measures that management uses.

The following tables reconcile the non-GAAP financial measurements used by management to our most directly comparable GAAP measures for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2017 and 2016 (dollars in millions).


Quarter Ended Dec. 31,


Year Ended Dec. 31,


2017

2016

Change


2017

2016

Change









Revenues

525.7

525.8



1,955.7

2,006.6


Less: Net realized (gains) losses

(3.6)

5.4



(2.2)

0.7


Adjusted revenues

522.1

531.2

(2)%


1,953.5

2,007.3

(3)%









Net income attributable to Stewart

15.1

16.7



48.7

55.5


Noncontrolling interests

3.0

3.5



11.5

12.9


Income taxes

(0.6)

2.8



14.9

19.6


Income before taxes and noncontrolling interests

17.5

23.0



75.1

88.0


Other non-operating charges

8.7

-



10.1

3.8


Litigation expense

0.4

-



0.4

3.6


Prior policy year reserve adjustments, net

-

-



-

(5.4)


Net realized (gains) losses

(3.6)

5.4



(2.2)

0.7


Adjusted income before taxes and noncontrolling interests

23.0

28.4



83.4

90.7


Depreciation and amortization

6.5

7.3



25.9

30.0


Interest expense

1.0

0.8



3.5

3.1










Adjusted EBITDA

30.5

36.5

(16)%


112.8

123.8

(9)%

 

Cision

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