A.M. Best Affirms Ratings of Fidelity’s Title Insurance Subsidiaries
|June 21, 2011|
A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the financial strength rating of A- (Excellent) and issuer credit ratings (ICR) of "a-" of Fidelity National Financial Group (Fidelity) and its four title insurance members. A.M. Best also has affirmed the ICR of "bbb-" of the parent holding company, Fidelity National Financial Inc. (FNF). The outlook for all ratings is stable.
The ratings reflect Fidelity's adequate capitalization and strong market profile as the largest title insurance group in the United States. The stable outlook is based on Fidelity's improved trend of risk-adjusted capitalization, lower premium leverage and the support it receives from FNF.
In 2009 and 2010, the group was able to reduce premium leverage measures through organic surplus growth from improved operating earnings, along with a moderate decline in premium writings. FNF's financial leverage measures, which had been elevated in recent years primarily due to increased borrowings to support liquidity levels, have been reduced mainly due to the issuance of over $300 million in new common stock in 2010, the proceeds of which were used exclusively to pay down a portion of the company's existing debt.
These positive rating factors are somewhat offset by Fidelity's challenge to manage and sustain operating performance through the current downswing in the real estate cycle. The significant slowdown in the U.S. housing market in recent years has negatively impacted the company's profitability. However, Fidelity continues to undertake aggressive efforts to achieve operating efficiencies, which along with its flexible cost structure, have helped to somewhat mitigate the effects of this down cycle.
The FSR of A- (Excellent) and ICR of "a-" have been affirmed for Fidelity National Financial Group and its following members: