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UPDATE 1-Title insurer Fidelity National has 1st-qtr loss
April 27, 2009 / 8:45 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 1-Title insurer Fidelity National has 1st-qtr loss

NEW YORK, April 27 (Reuters) - Fidelity National Financial Inc (FNF.N), which controls one of the largest U.S. title insurers, posted a first-quarter loss on Monday, saying a surge in demand for mortgage refinancings made it take longer to close transactions.

The net loss for the Jacksonville, Florida-based company was $12.4 million, or 6 cents per share, and compared with a profit of $27.2 million, or 13 cents, a year earlier. Revenue increased 21 percent to $1.36 billion, helped by acquisitions.

Analysts on average expected profit of 14 cents per share on revenue of $1.44 billion, according to Reuters Estimates.

The quarter was the first three-month period since Fidelity National in December bought three title insurers, including LandAmerica Financial Group Inc’s LFGRQ.PK Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Co and Lawyers Title Insurance Corp.

Demand for refinancings “caused an increase in the time it takes to close an order, as we really only began to see an increase in closed order volumes during the later part of the quarter,” Chief Executive William Foley said in a statement.

He said that trend is likely to continue.

Fidelity National said 746,500 orders were opened in the quarter, while 428,600 were closed. The company on April 20 sold common stock for net proceeds of $331 million and is examining whether to use more proceeds to pay down debt.

The company’s shares closed Monday up 15 cents at $19.06 on the New York Stock Exchange. They have nearly tripled from their 52-week low of $6.66 set last Nov. 21. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Andre Grenon)

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