Fidelity National Financial, Inc. ( FNF )

Q2 2010 Earnings Call Transcript

July 22, 2010 12:00 pm ET


Dan Murphy – SVP and Treasurer

Bill Foley – Chairman

Al Stinson – CEO

Tony Park – CFO

Randy Quirk – CEO, Fidelity National Title Group


Doug Mewhirter – RBC Capital Markets

Mark Dwelle – Barclays

Jason Deleeuw – Piper Jaffray

Nath Otis – KBW

Brett Huff – Stephens



Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by, and welcome to the FNF 2010 second quarter earnings teleconference call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct a question-and-answer session and instructions will be given at that time. (Operator instructions) As a reminder, this conference is being recorded.

I would now like to turn the conference over to our host, Dan Murphy. Please go ahead.

Dan Murphy

Thank you Lisa and good morning, everyone, and thanks for joining us for our second quarter 2010 earnings conference call. Joining me today are Bill Foley, our Chairman; Al Stinson, our Chief Executive Officer; Randy Quirk, President; George Scanlon, COO; and Tony Park, CFO.

We will begin with a brief strategic overview from Bill Foley, Al Stinson will provide an update on the title business and our operating companies, and Tony Park will finish with a review of the financials highlights. We will then open for your questions and finish with some concluding remarks from Bill Foley.

This conference call may contain forward-looking statements that involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Statements that are not historical facts, including statements about our beliefs and expectations, are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are based on management's beliefs as well as assumptions made by and information currently available to management. Because such statements are based on expectations as to future economic performance and are not statements of facts, actual results may differ materially from those projected. We undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. The risk and uncertainties, which forward-looking statements are

subject to include, but are not limited to, the risks and other factors detailed in our press release dated yesterday, and in the statements regarding forward-looking information, risk factors, and other sections of the company's Form 10-K, and other filings with the SEC.

This conference call will be available for replay via webcast at our Web site at It will also be available through phone replay beginning at 02:00 pm Eastern Time today through next Thursday July 29. The replay number is 800-475-6701, and the access code is 164269.

Let me now turn the call over to our Chairman, Bill Foley.

Bill Foley

Thanks Dan. We experienced success in a number of areas during the second quarter. In our title business, we generated a pretax margin of 9.6% despite a 31% decline in close orders versus the second quarter of 2009. Resale transactions represented 54% of close orders during the second quarter versus 34% in last year’s second quarter with this and with this market shift primarily causing a 28% increase in fee per file over the second quarter of 2009. As the second quarter progressed, the open order mix shifted back more to refinance driven transaction markets.

During June, we began to see the effect of lower mortgage rates, as open orders per day increased 6% sequentially over May, and refinance orders represented 58% of open order activity during that final month of the quarter. Open orders continued to show strength in the first half of July, with open orders per day increasing more than 18% sequentially from June, again driven by higher refinance volumes. Lower mortgage rates and increased order activity will provide momentum as we move into the third quarter. We are still in a very fragile economy, and we try to run our business week to week to respond to market conditions.

During the quarter, we also successfully closed the sale of our 32% equity ownership stake in Sedgwick in late May, generating a pre-tax gain of approximately $98 million. The total cash purchase price for Sedgwick including repayment of debt was approximately $1.1 billion. The sale of Sedgwick clearly achieved our ongoing goal of creating significant value for our shareholders, and was the culmination of a very successful four-year investment for FNF.

During May, we also issued $300 million of 6.6% senior notes with a May 2017 maturity. The issuance enhances our longer-term liquidity profile, and continues our strategy of conservatively managing our balance sheet and liquidity position during these uncertain times. The net proceeds more than pre-fund the $165 million of debt that matures in August of 2011, extending the maturity profile of our outstanding debt and providing increased flexibility at the holding company.

Our book value has grown to nearly $15 per share as of June 30 with the stock low debt level, we continued to repurchase shares during the quarter. We bought back more than 1.5 million shares during the second quarter for approximately $20.8 million or an average price of approximately $13.54. At June 30, we still had 11.3 million shares of repurchase capacity under our current buyback authorization, and there were 228 million shares outstanding. We continue to believe that repurchasing our stock at a deep discount to book value is a great investment and will ultimately provide considerable value for our shareholders.

At the end of June, we completed a project to reduce the number of title insurance underwriters within our family of title insurance of companies. As a result of the Chicago title merger in 2000 and the acquisition of the major Land America underwriters in 2008, we found ourselves operating with 12 distinct title insurance underwriters during 2009. We determined that we could significantly reduce regulatory, statutory, legal and operating and oversight costs associated with operating such a large family of separate and independent underwriters allowing us to approach the marketplace with a more efficient streamlined operating platform.

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