Another Good Earnings Report

It was another solid quarter for Old Republic (ORI). EPS, excluding capital gains or losses, were $0.68 vs. $0.79 last year, which was $0.09 above expectations. Premiums declined 5.5%, as general insurance premiums increased 7.1%. Title insurance premiums declined 15.2% as the housing market cooled from last year’s hot pace. The company’s ratio of losses to premiums crept up to 32.3% from 30.1%, although ORI compensated for this well with controlled expenses.

The company is having its conference call later in the day, and I will provide updated information from that in our November issue in two weeks. For now, EPS estimates of $2.50 for this year may be conservative; I think the company can earn $2.60 this year and next. This level of earnings supports my $27 price target. ORI is a buy under $24, The 4.0% dividend yield adds to the attraction of the shares.