Fidelity 4Q Profit Down 11 Percent

February 15, 2005

Fidelity National Fourth-Quarter Profit Sinks 11 Percent As Expenses Grow

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Fidelity National Financial, Inc. reported Tuesday that earnings declined 11 percent in the fourth quarter as expenses outgrew revenue.

The title insurance company earned $174.9 million, or 98 cents per share, down from $196.2 million, or $1.16 per share, a year ago. Revenue rose 3 percent to $2.1 billion from $2.04 billion as operating costs, personnel costs and other expenses rose 5 percent to $1.81 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson First Call expected earnings of 96 cents per share on revenue of $2.03 billion.

"Order volumes remained strong by historical standards and followed a typical seasonal pattern in the fourth quarter of 2004," said Randy Quirk, Fidelity National president, in a statement. "As expected, open orders slowed significantly during the holiday season from late November through December, which will impact closing volumes in the first quarter of 2005." The company had closed 75 percent of the fourth quarter's orders, down from a 95 percent closing rate last year.

The company posted full-year earnings of $741 million, or $4.21 per share, on $8.3 billion in sales. Analysts forecast a profit of $4.18 per share on revenue of $8.25 billion.

Fidelity National shares closed Monday at $46.51 on the New York Stock Exchange, and rose 75 cents to $47.26 in premarket activity.

Copyright Associated Press

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