Old Republic’s Title Segment Reports ’09 Profit

January 28, 2010

Old Republic International’s title insurance business reported a profit for the first time since 2006, according to the company’s year-end and fourth quarter earnings release.

The title insurance division reported a pretax operating income of $2.1 million for 2009, compared to a loss of $46.3 million for 2008. During the fourth quarter of last year, the title group earned $1.5 million, while losing $19.3 during the same period in 2008.

The company said growth in title premiums and fees in 2009 resulted mostly from greater refinance transactions earlier in the year and from market share gains taken from title industry dislocations and consolidations.

Production and general operating expenses, while relatively lower as a percentage of premium and fees revenues, rose dollar-wise in reflection of greater personnel and other production costs related to the higher revenues attained and anticipated.

The title insurer’s claims ratio increased to 7.9 percent in 2009, up from 7.0 percent. During the fourth quarter of 2009, the claims ratio was 8.6 percent, up from 7 percent during the same period in 2008. The company said claims rose a quicker pace, as the company added moderately to reserve provisions in consideration of recent claim emergence trends.

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