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First American Beats Estimates

Profits rise 67%.

Business information provider

First American


reported a 67% jump in fourth-quarter earnings from a year ago, due to improved operating efficiencies.

The company earned $117.5 million, or $1.19 a share, in the quarter, compared with $70.4 million, or 76 cents a share, a year ago. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of $1.10 a share in the most recent quarter.

Fourth-quarter revenue rose 22.2% from a year ago to $2.2 billion. Analysts were expecting revenue of $1.8 billion in the most recent quarter.

Operating revenue rose 17% from a year ago to $2.1 billion.

The company's book value rose 14.6% to $31.3 a share.

Revenue from financial services segment rose 21.4% from a year ago to $1.7 billion, and revenue from the information technology segment rose 11.8% from a year ago, to $457.1 million.

"We will continue to pursue important strategies to maintain strong profits. These strategies, which include superior technology, centralization, offshore processing, bundling, analytics and growth through acquisitions, were key to our profitability in 2004 and 2005,� the company said. "We will build upon these strategies in 2006 and beyond to expand margins, especially in the title insurance segment, and to increase market share in all our businesses. We feel we have built a company that can achieve healthy levels of profitability through any market cycle.

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