Stewart Reports Fourth Quarter 2020 Results

- Operating revenues of $728.3 million, an increase of $215.6 million, or 42 percent, compared to the prior year quarter

- Net income of $59.7 million ($56.4 million on an adjusted basis) compared to break-even results ($20.6 million on an adjusted basis) in the prior year quarter

- Diluted EPS of $2.22 ($2.09 on an adjusted basis) compared to prior year quarter diluted EPS of $0.00 ($0.87 on an adjusted basis)

- Full year 2020 net income of $154.9 million ($158.3 million on an adjusted basis) compared to $78.6 million ($65.4 million on an adjusted basis) in the prior year

- Full year 2020 diluted EPS of $6.22 ($6.35 on an adjusted basis) compared to 2019 diluted EPS of $3.31 ($2.75 on an adjusted basis)

HOUSTON, Feb.10, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Stewart Information Services Corporation (NYSE: STC) today reported net income attributable to Stewart for the fourth quarter 2020 of $59.7 million ($2.22 per diluted share), compared to break-even results for the fourth quarter 2019. On an adjusted basis, Stewart's fourth quarter 2020 net income of $56.4 million ($2.09 per diluted share) increased 174 percent from $20.6 million ($0.87 per diluted share) in the fourth quarter 2019. Fourth quarter 2020 pretax income before noncontrolling interests was $83.9 million compared to pretax income before noncontrolling interests of $3.8 million for the fourth quarter 2019.

Fourth quarter 2020 results included $4.4 million of pretax net realized and unrealized gains, composed of $3.9 million of net unrealized gains on fair value changes of equity securities investments and $0.5 million of net realized gains on sale of securities investments recorded in the title segment.

Fourth quarter 2019 results included the following pretax items:

  • $8.0 million of net realized and unrealized losses, which included $11.7 million of impairment expenses relating to long-lived assets, partially offset by $2.2 million of realized gains on sale of securities investments and $1.1 million of net unrealized gains on fair value changes of equity securities investments,
  • $6.5 million of severance expenses related to our corporate reorganization included in employee costs ($4.3 million in the ancillary services and corporate segment and $2.2 million in the title segment),
  • $5.9 million of office closure costs primarily related to lease terminations included in other operating expenses ($4.7 million in the title segment and $1.2 million in the ancillary services and corporate segment),
  • $2.2 million of executive insurance policy settlement expense recorded as part of other operating expenses within the ancillary services and corporate segment,
  • $1.7 million of commercial services' escrow loss recorded as part of title loss expense in the title segment, and
  • $2.1 million of other non-operating charges ($1.3 million in the ancillary services and corporate segment and $0.8 million in the title segment).

"Our fourth quarter 2020 results were driven by revenue growth across all lines of business and by actively managing our cost structure. Even with real estate trends remaining strong through the fourth quarter, I was especially encouraged to see solid performance across all major channels, including purchase, refinancing, commercial, international and ancillary services," commented Fred Eppinger, chief executive officer. "We continued to execute on our plan to leverage top line performance to drive enhanced company profitability, as we not only took advantage of elevated transaction activity in the quarter, but also made acquisitions that strengthened our real estate technology, valuations and core title offerings. Lastly, I remain thankful for the tremendous dedication and hard work of our associates in these challenging times, their efforts have been nothing short of extraordinary and, hopefully, 2021 will bring all of us a greater level of safety and security."

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

 

Quarter Ended

December 31,

 

Year Ended

December 31,

 

2020

2019

 

2020

2019

           

Total revenues

736.7

509.9

 

2,288.4

1,940.0

Pretax income before noncontrolling interests

83.9

3.8

 

218.5

117.0

Income tax expense

(19.5)

(0.7)

 

(48.8)

(26.7)

Net income attributable to noncontrolling interests

(4.7)

(3.1)

 

(14.8)

(11.7)

Net income attributable to Stewart

59.7

0.0

 

154.9

78.6

Non-GAAP adjustments, after taxes*

(3.3)

20.6

 

3.4

(13.2)

Adjusted net income attributable to Stewart*

56.4

20.6

 

158.3

65.4

Net income per diluted Stewart share

2.22

0.00

 

6.22

3.31

Adjusted net income per diluted Stewart share*

2.09

0.87

 

6.35

2.75

* See Appendix A for an explanation and reconciliation of all non-GAAP adjustments.

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

 

Quarter Ended December 31,

 
 

2020

2019

% Change

 
         

Operating revenues

690.2

506.0

36%

 

Investment income

4.1

5.2

(21)%

 

Net realized and unrealized gains (losses)

4.4

(3.4)

230%

 

Pretax income

94.9

20.3

367%

 

Pretax margin

13.6%

4.0%

   

Title segment pretax income increased $74.6 million, while pretax margin improved 960 basis points to 13.6 percent in the fourth quarter 2020 compared to the prior year quarter. Title operating revenues increased $184.3 million, or 36 percent, resulting from increases in direct title revenues of $106.0 million, or 45 percent, and gross independent agency revenues of $78.3 million, or 29 percent. In line with the increased title revenues, the segment's fourth quarter 2020 overall operating expenses increased $116.3 million, or 24 percent, with agency retention expenses and combined title employee costs and other operating expenses increasing 28 percent and 16 percent, respectively, from the prior year quarter. Average independent agency remittance rate improved to 18.2 percent in the fourth quarter 2020, compared to 17.7 percent in the prior year quarter, while combined title employee costs and other operating expenses, as a percentage of title revenues, improved to 38.8 percent in the fourth quarter 2020 compared to 45.7 percent in the prior year quarter.

Title loss expense increased $17.7 million, or 61 percent, in the fourth quarter 2020 compared to the prior year quarter, primarily due to increased title revenues and higher loss provisioning rates due to the macroeconomic environment. As a percentage of title revenues, the title loss expense in the fourth quarter 2020 was 6.8 percent compared to 5.7 percent from the prior year quarter; on a full year basis, the title loss ratio was 5.3 percent in 2020 compared to 4.6 percent in 2019. Given the current economic environment, we anticipate that our 2021 loss ratio will be comparable to the full year 2020 loss ratio.

The segment's investment income decreased $1.1 million, or 21 percent, in the fourth quarter 2020, primarily as a result of lower interest rates during 2020. As noted previously, net realized and unrealized gains for the fourth quarter 2020 consisted primarily of net unrealized gains on fair value changes of equity securities investments (as noted above), while net realized and unrealized losses for the fourth quarter 2019 included $7.1 million of impairment expenses related to long-lived assets, partially offset by net gains from sale of securities investments and fair value changes of equity securities investments.

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

 

Quarter Ended December 31,

 
 

2020

2019

% Change

 
           
 

Non-commercial:

       
 

Domestic

239.7

149.1

61%

 
 

International

35.7

24.1

48%

 
 

Commercial:

       
 

Domestic

58.1

54.7

6%

 
 

International

7.7

7.4

4%

 
 

Total direct title revenues

341.2

235.3

45%

 
           

Direct title revenues increased as a result of overall improvements in commercial and non-commercial revenues, primarily driven by increased transactions during the fourth quarter 2020 compared to the prior year quarter. Domestic non-commercial revenues increased $90.6 million, or 61 percent, as a result of higher purchase and refinancing residential closed orders from both existing and newly acquired title offices. Domestic commercial revenues improved $3.4 million, or 6 percent, due to increased transaction size and volume. Total international revenues increased $11.9 million, or 38 percent, primarily due to higher volumes in our Canadian and European operations. Domestic commercial fee per file in the fourth quarter 2020 was approximately $12,900, an improvement of 6 percent from the fourth quarter 2019; while domestic residential fee per file was approximately $2,000, or 4 percent lower than the prior year quarter, primarily due to a higher mix of refinancing compared to purchase transactions.

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

 

Quarter Ended December 31,

 
 

2020

2019

% Change

 
         

Operating revenues

38.0

6.7

464%

 

Net realized losses

-

(4.6)

100%

 

Pretax loss

(11.0)

(16.5)

33%

 

The segment's operating revenues increased from the prior year quarter as a result of 2020 acquisitions, which generated $34.5 million in the fourth quarter 2020. Revenues from our capital markets search and home equity valuation services operations declined $3.2 million, or 48 percent, due to significantly lower customer orders. Net realized losses in the fourth quarter 2019 were primarily related to impairments of long-lived assets. Pretax results for ancillary services operations, including acquisitions, improved $0.5 million, or 48 percent, in the fourth quarter 2020 compared to the prior year quarter. Net expenses attributable to parent company and corporate operations for the fourth quarter 2020 were approximately $10.4 million, which included costs related to charitable contributions, increased employee vacation carryover, and third-party strategic consulting; while net expenses for the fourth quarter 2019 were approximately $10.9 million, which included reorganization severance expenses, executive insurance policy settlement costs, charitable contributions and asset impairment charges.

Expenses
Total employee costs and other operating expenses related to operations of new acquisitions were $20.6 million and $34.0 million, respectively, for the fourth quarter 2020. Excluding these acquisitions, total employee costs increased $9.6 million, or 6 percent, in the fourth quarter 2020 compared to the prior year quarter, primarily due to higher incentive compensation on improved overall operating results, partially offset by lower severance expenses. As a percentage of total operating revenues, consolidated employee costs for the fourth quarter 2020 improved to 25.3 percent from 30.1 percent in the fourth quarter 2019.

Excluding acquisitions, other operating expenses increased $1.9 million, or 2 percent, in the fourth quarter 2020 compared to the prior year quarter. This increase primarily resulted from higher outside title search, attorney fee split and premium tax expenses on higher title revenues, and increased third-party consulting, partially offset by lower insurance, travel and office closure expenses. As a percentage of total operating revenues, consolidated other operating expenses for the fourth quarter 2020 was 17.9 percent compared to 18.4 percent in the fourth quarter 2019.

Other
Net cash provided by operations was $134.9 million in the fourth quarter 2020, compared to $59.1 million in the prior year quarter. The increased cash from operations was primarily driven by the higher net income and lower payments on accounts payables, partially offset by lower collections on accounts receivable.

Fourth quarter Earnings Call
Stewart will hold a conference call to discuss the fourth quarter 2020 earnings at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, February 11, 2021. To participate, dial (866) 342-8591 (USA) and (203) 518-9713 (International) - access code STCQ420. Additionally, participants can listen to the conference call through Stewart's Investor Relations website at http://www.stewart.com/investor-relations/earnings-call.html. The conference call replay will be available from 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time on February 11, 2021 until midnight on February 18, 2021, by dialing (800) 283-7928 (USA) or (402) 220-0866 (International) - the access code is also STCQ420.

About Stewart
Stewart Information Services Corporation (NYSE: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 earnings release are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, as amended. 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 "may," "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 volatility of economic conditions, including the duration and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic; 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; 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, 2019, as supplemented by any risk factors contained in our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, and our Current Reports on Form 8-K. All forward-looking statements included in this earnings 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 earnings 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 OPERATIONS
(In thousands of dollars, except per share amounts and except where noted)

       
 

Quarter Ended Dec. 31,

 

Year Ended Dec. 31,

 

2020

2019

 

2020

2019

Revenues:

         

Title revenues:

         

Direct operations

341,241

235,259

 

1,037,852

869,457

Agency operations

349,008

270,705

 

1,151,030

970,540

Ancillary services

38,048

6,748

 

82,621

37,456

Total operating revenues

728,297

512,712

 

2,271,503

1,877,453

Investment income

4,077

5,164

 

18,607

19,795

Net realized and unrealized gains (losses)

4,357

(7,970)

 

(1,678)

42,760

 

736,731

509,906

 

2,288,432

1,940,008

Expenses:

         

Amounts retained by agencies

285,342

222,670

 

944,480

799,229

Employee costs

184,377

154,206

 

613,195

567,173

Other operating expenses

130,184

94,318

 

375,188

345,347

Title losses and related claims

46,625

28,891

 

115,224

84,423

Depreciation and amortization

5,780

5,068

 

19,216

22,526

Interest

550

972

 

2,624

4,341

 

652,858

506,125

 

2,069,927

1,823,039

Income before taxes and noncontrolling interests

83,873

3,781

 

218,505

116,969

Income tax expense

(19,540)

(717)

 

(48,833)

(26,695)

Net income

64,333

3,064

 

169,672

90,272

Less net income attributable to noncontrolling interests

4,660

3,095

 

14,767

11,657

Net income (loss) attributable to Stewart

59,673

(31)

 

154,905

78,615

           

Net earnings per diluted share attributable to Stewart

2.22

0.00

 

6.22

3.31

Diluted average shares outstanding (000)

26,908

23,619

 

24,913

23,753

           

Selected financial information:

         

Net cash provided by operations

134,945

59,070

 

275,806

166,359

Other comprehensive income

8,346

2,039

 

19,721

22,072

 

Monthly Domestic Order Counts:

             

Opened Orders 2020:

Oct

Nov

Dec

Total

 

Closed Orders 2020:

Oct

Nov

Dec

Total

Commercial

1,448

1,366

1,653

4,467

 

Commercial

1,335

1,355

1,796

4,486

Purchase

24,787

20,996

20,051

65,834

 

Purchase

19,086

16,601

19,719

55,406

Refinancing

27,726

25,596

27,424

80,746

 

Refinancing

22,954

20,221

21,682

64,857

Other

590

524

461

1,575

 

Other

431

439

408

1,278

Total

54,551

48,482

49,589

152,622

 

Total

43,806

38,616

43,605

126,027

                     

Opened Orders 2019:

Oct

Nov

Dec

Total

 

Closed Orders 2019:

Oct

Nov

Dec

Total

Commercial

1,407

1,377

1,820

4,604

 

Commercial

1,281

1,203

1,976

4,460

Purchase

18,950

14,941

13,884

47,775

 

Purchase

14,300

12,235

13,690

40,225

Refinancing

15,848

12,726

11,365

39,939

 

Refinancing

11,549

9,602

10,307

31,458

Other

443

289

185

917

 

Other

292

176

199

667

Total

36,648

29,333

27,254

93,235

 

Total

27,422

23,216

26,172

76,810

 

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

 
 

2020

 

2019

Assets:

   

Cash and cash equivalents

432,683

330,609

Short-term investments

20,678

23,527

Investments in debt and equity securities, at fair value

684,387

645,039

Receivables – premiums from agencies

34,507

26,405

Receivables – other

58,112

50,067

Allowance for uncollectible amounts

(4,807)

(4,469)

Property and equipment, net

51,671

50,461

Operating lease assets, net

106,479

99,028

Title plants

72,863

72,627

Goodwill

431,477

248,890

Intangible assets, net of amortization

37,382

4,623

Deferred tax assets

4,330

4,407

Other assets

48,813

41,571

 

1,978,575

1,592,785

Liabilities:

   

Notes payable

101,773

110,632

Accounts payable and accrued liabilities

225,180

126,779

Operating lease liabilities

119,089

113,843

Estimated title losses

496,275

459,053

Deferred tax liabilities

23,852

28,719

 

966,169

839,026

Stockholders' equity:

   

Common Stock and additional paid-in capital

301,937

188,279

Retained earnings

688,819

564,392

Accumulated other comprehensive income (loss)

17,022

(2,699)

Treasury stock

(2,666)

(2,666)

Stockholders' equity attributable to Stewart

1,005,112

747,306

Noncontrolling interests

7,294

6,453

Total stockholders' equity

1,012,406

753,759

 

1,978,575

1,592,785

Number of shares outstanding (000)

26,728

23,709

Book value per share

37.60

31.52

 

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

 

Three months ended:

December 31, 2020

 

December 31, 2019

 

Title

Ancillary
Services
and
Corporate

Consolidated

 

Title

Ancillary
Services
and
Corporate

Consolidated

Revenues:

             

Operating revenues

690,249

38,048

728,297

 

505,964

6,748

512,712

Investment income

4,077

-

4,077

 

5,164

-

5,164

Net realized and unrealized gains (losses)

4,357

-

4,357

 

(3,352)

(4,618)

(7,970)

 

698,683

38,048

736,731

 

507,776

2,130

509,906

Expenses:

             

Amounts retained by agencies

285,342

-

285,342

 

222,670

-

222,670

Employee costs

175,682

8,695

184,377

 

144,882

9,324

154,206

Other operating expenses

92,230

37,954

130,184

 

86,354

7,964

94,318

Title losses and related claims

46,625

-

46,625

 

28,891

-

28,891

Depreciation and amortization

3,929

1,851

5,780

 

4,662

406

5,068

Interest

-

550

550

 

-

972

972

 

603,808

49,050

652,858

 

487,459

18,666

506,125

Income (loss) before taxes

94,875

(11,002)

83,873

 

20,317

(16,536)

3,781

             
 
 

Year ended:

December 31, 2020

 

December 31, 2019

 

Title

Ancillary
Services
and
Corporate

Consolidated

 

Title

Ancillary
Services
and
Corporate

Consolidated

Revenues:

             

Operating revenues

2,188,882

82,621

2,271,503

 

1,839,997

37,456

1,877,453

Investment income

18,607

-

18,607

 

19,795

-

19,795

Net realized and unrealized (losses) gains

(2,188)

510

(1,678)

 

(2,744)

45,504

42,760

 

2,205,301

83,131

2,288,432

 

1,857,048

82,960

1,940,008

Expenses:

             

Amounts retained by agencies

944,480

-

944,480

 

799,229

-

799,229

Employee costs

587,316

25,879

613,195

 

540,687

26,486

567,173

Other operating expenses

296,173

79,015

375,188

 

304,278

41,069

345,347

Title losses and related claims

115,224

-

115,224

 

84,423

-

84,423

Depreciation and amortization

15,230

3,986

19,216

 

19,971

2,555

22,526

Interest

-

2,624

2,624

 

1

4,340

4,341

 

1,958,423

111,504

2,069,927

 

1,748,589

74,450

1,823,039

Income (loss) before taxes

246,878

(28,373)

218,505

 

108,459

8,510

116,969

Appendix A
Non-GAAP Adjustments

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 and unrealized gains and losses and (2) net income after earnings from noncontrolling interests and adjusted for net realized and unrealized gains and losses and other non-operating costs, which primarily include merger expenses, cost initiative severance expenses, office closure costs and insurance settlement expenses (adjusted net income). Adjusted diluted earnings per share (adjusted diluted EPS) is calculated using adjusted net income divided by the diluted average weighted outstanding shares. 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.

Below is a reconciliation of the non-GAAP financial measurements used by management to the most directly comparable GAAP measures for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2020 and 2019 (dollars in millions, except share and per share amounts).

 

Quarter Ended Dec. 31,

 

Year Ended Dec. 31,

 

2020

2019

% Change

 

2020

2019

% Change

               

Total revenues

736.7

509.9

   

2,288.4

1,940.0

 

Less: Net realized and unrealized gains (losses)

4.4

(8.0)

   

(1.7)

42.8

 

Adjusted revenues

732.3

517.9

41%

 

2,290.1

1,897.2

21%

               

Net income attributable to Stewart

59.7

-

   

154.9

78.6

 

Non-GAAP pretax adjustments:

             

Net realized and unrealized (gains) losses*

(4.4)

8.0

   

1.7

(42.8)

 

FNF merger-related expenses

-

0.1

   

-

6.8

 

Severance expenses

-

6.5

   

2.8

6.5

 

Office closure costs

-

5.9

   

-

6.6

 

Executive insurance policy settlement

-

2.2

   

-

2.2

 

Large escrow losses

-

1.7

   

-

1.7

 

Other non-operating charges

-

2.1

   

-

2.1

 

Net tax effects of non-GAAP adjustments

1.0

(5.9)

   

(1.1)

3.7

 

Non-GAAP adjustments, after taxes

(3.3)

20.6

   

3.4

(13.2)

 

Adjusted net income attributable to Stewart

56.4

20.6

174%

 

158.3

65.4

142%

               

Diluted average shares outstanding (000)

26,908

23,773

   

24,913

23,753

 

Adjusted net income per share

2.09

0.87

   

6.35

2.75

 
               

*Net realized and unrealized gains for the year ended December 31, 2019 included the $50.0 million FNF merger termination fee.

 

 

 
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