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On April 22, 2009, Old Republic International ( ORI) reported that its net loss widened during Q1 FY09, hurt by a decline in operating revenues amid ongoing weakness in the company's housing-related mortgage guaranty and title insurance lines. Net loss for the quarter stood at $53.90 million, or $0.23 per share, compared with a loss of $19.00 million, or $0.08 per share, in Q1 FY08. The consensus estimate was for a loss of $0.33 per share.

Total revenue fell 7.7% to $878.50 million from $951.60 million a year ago. Furthermore, net premiums and fees earned dipped 8.2% to $777.40 million from $846.60 million, while net investment income inched down 1.9% to $93.40 million from $95.20 million. Meanwhile, other income shrunk 13.6% to $7.60 million from $8.80 million a year ago.

Revenue from general insurance operations decreased 9.9% to $523.70 million, as a result of slightly lower invested asset base and reduced yields on fixed maturity and equity holdings. Mortgage guaranty operations revenue declined marginally to $171.20 million impacted by a contracting mortgage lending market place and increased acceptance of competing Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan guaranty programs. Moreover, title insurance operating revenue slipped 4.1% to $160.20 million, on account of lower premium and fee revenues due to the ongoing cyclical downturn in the U.S. housing and related mortgage lending sectors.

For the fourth quarter, ORI's benefits and claims ratio advanced to 83.9% from 76.6% a year ago, while its expense ratio marginally increased to 39.6% from 39.1% in the prior year quarter. Consequently, ORI's composite ratio swelled 780 basis points to 123.5% from 115.7% in Q1 FY08, thereby reflecting its deteriorating underwriting performance. Additionally, the company paid a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.17 per share on March 13, 2009.

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