Another wave of earnings reports carried financial stocks higher Friday, and among these was Chicago's Aon (AOC).
The insurer said first-quarter earnings vaulted 37% year over year to 70 cents a share on 10% higher revenue at $2.38 billion, vs. Wall Street estimates of 66 cents a share on revenue of $2.26 billion, according to Thomson Financial. Shares were adding 5.2% to $42.08.
The news helped lift the NYSE Financial Sector Index by 34.1 points, or 0.4%, to 9,883.06. The KBW Bank Index, meanwhile, added 0.2% to 117.40.
KKR Financial (KFN) reported first-quarter earnings that surged 22 cents from last year to 60 cents a share -- 13 cents better than expected. The San Francisco-based specialty-finance company gained 1% to $27.27.Connecticut-based Odyssey Re (ORH) was also well ahead for the first quarter, as was fellow insurer Nationwide Financial Services (NFS) of Columbus, Ohio. The former climbed 1.6% to $27.44; the latter tacked on 63 cents, or 1.1%, to $59.59. Away from earnings news, NovaStar Financial (NFI) was still higher by 7% after Thursday's late-trading jump on news the struggling subprime-mortgage lender secured $1.9 billion in financing from Wachovia. Among the few financial losers Friday, California's Greater Bay Bancorp (GBBK) sank 5.3% to $27.98 in very heavy trading amid news of a takeover and a disappointing first-quarter report. Wells Fargo (WFC) has inked a deal to acquire Greater Bay in a $1.5 billion stock-for-stock merger that's expected to close in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Greater Bay reported that profits slid 32.6% from last year to 31 cents a share, or $17.8 million. Analysts were seeking 39 cents a share. Shares of Wells Fargo were trading up 6 cents, or 0.2%, at $35.90. And Boston-based lender NewStar Financial (NEWS - Get Report), for which Wall Street had predicted first-quarter profits of 15 cents a share, made only a penny a share (adjusted) -- down 11 cents from last year. Shares tumbled $1.69, or 10.4%, to $14.52.