Willis Group Holdings, the third largest global insurance broker, said Wednesday that its fourth-quarter net income fell about 35 percent, hurt by declines in foreign currency and integration costs from a recent acquisition.
Net income was $62 million, or 37 cents a share, down from $95 million, or 66 cents a share, in the year-earlier quarter.
The company said its acquisition last October of Hilb Rogal & Hobbs trimmed about 3 cents off of its fourth quarter per share earnings. Foreign currency translation — primarily the strengthening of the U.S. dollar versus the British pound — cut into earnings by about 26 cents a share, Willis added.
However, revenue rose about 25 percent to $799 million, largely due to the HRH acquisition.
Willis, which competes with larger rivals Aon and Marsh & McLennan in helping commercial clients find insurance, said it would suspend its practice of giving an annual earnings forecast, citing its inability to predict the “potential impact of the uncertainty of the global economy on current insurance pricing or on potential changes in the buying decisions of clients.”
Shares of Willis, which has large operations in New York and London, fell 0.5 percent in post-market trading after rising 2.6 percent in the regular session to $22.37 a share. The stock is down about 35 percent over the last 12 months.
(Reporting by Lilla Zuill; Editing by Christian Wiessner)
IJ Ed. Note: Copies of the earnings release are available in the “Investor Relations” section of the company’s web site at: (www.willis.com).
Willis will hold a conference call today, February 12, 2009, at 8:00 AM, U.S. Eastern Time, Joe Plumeri, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Willis Group Holdings, will host a conference call to discuss the company’s results and business trends. Interested parties may access the conference call by dialing (866) 617-1526 (U.S.) or +1 (210) 795-0624 (international) with a passcode of “Willis.” Media and individuals will be in a listen-only mode.
Participants are asked to call in a few minutes prior to the call to register for the event. Interested parties may also access the conference call in a listen-only mode via the Internet. To do so, they should go to the “Investor Relations” section of the company’s web site and register for the call. A replay of the call will be available through March 11, 2009 at 10:00 PM U.S. Eastern Time, by calling (800) 756-1819 (U.S.) or + 1 (203) 369-3011 (international) with no passcode, or by accessing the web site.