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News Article Details

Willis Group Reports Second Quarter 2010 Results, Posts $82M Income in 2Q


Posted on 29 Jul 2010

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Willis Group Holdings plc, the global insurance broker, reported on Wednesday results for the quarter and six months ended June 30, 2010.

"Our second quarter results continue to reflect the strength of our geographic diversity and our relentless focus on building the business," said Joe Plumeri, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Willis Group Holdings. “Organic growth in commissions and fees was 4 percent, driven by 16 percent new business growth and solid client retention. This result was in the face of a continued soft insurance market and challenging economic conditions. We continue to exercise disciplined expense management while funding investments for future growth.”

Second Quarter 2010 Financial Results

Reported net income from continuing operations for the quarter ended June 30, 2010 was $89 million, or $0.52 per diluted share, compared with $87 million, or $0.52 per diluted share, in the same period a year ago. Reported net income from continuing operations for the second quarter of 2010 was impacted by a net loss on disposal of operations of $3 million after tax, or $0.02 per diluted share, and for the second quarter of 2009 by certain items, which are detailed later in this release.

Adjusted net income per diluted share from continuing operations increased 4 percent to $0.54 in the second quarter of 2010 compared with $0.52 in the second quarter of 2009. Foreign currency movements favorably impacted earnings by $0.03 per diluted share compared with the second quarter of 2009. In addition, a pre-tax gain of $12 million, or $0.04 per diluted share, was recognized on the curtailment of the US pension plan in the second quarter of 2009.

Total reported revenues for the quarter ended June 30, 2010 were $799 million compared with $784 million for the same period last year, an increase of 2 percent. Total commissions and fees were $789 million, an increase of 2 percent from $772 million in the second quarter of 2009. Foreign currency movements unfavorably impacted reported commissions and fees by 2 percent. Investment income was $10 million in the second quarter of 2010, compared with $12 million in the second quarter of 2009. This decline was principally due to lower interest rates.

Organic growth in commissions and fees was 4 percent in the second quarter of 2010 compared with the second quarter of 2009. Net new business growth of 6 percent reflected strong new business generation of 16 percent and solid client retention. Partially offsetting net new business growth was a 2 percent negative impact from declining premium rates and other market factors.

The North America segment reported a 2 percent decline in commissions and fees in the second quarter of 2010 compared with the second quarter of 2009. Organic commissions and fees declined 1 percent in the second quarter of 2010 compared with an 8 percent decline in the same period a year ago. North America generated new business growth in the teens, with improved client retention, and also benefited from positive growth in the employee benefits practice. In addition, there was a $2.9 million favorable impact from a one-time accounting adjustment related to the HRH acquisition within the specialty businesses. The segment continues to be impacted by headwinds from soft insurance market conditions and ongoing weakness in the US economy. Operating margin was 20.5 percent in the second quarter of 2010. This compares with operating margin of 22.3 percent in second quarter of 2009, which included the pre-tax gain of $9 million from the curtailment of the US pension plan.

The International business segment reported 6 percent growth in commissions and fees and contributed 8 percent organic growth in commissions and fees in the second quarter of 2010 compared with the same period in 2009. Growth was recorded across all regions, with double- digit expansion in Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe. The UK and Ireland retail market recorded modestly positive growth after several negative quarters. Operating margin was 23.5 percent in the second quarter of 2010.

The Global segment, which comprises the Reinsurance, Global Specialties, Faber & Dumas, and Willis Capital Markets & Advisory divisions, reported 4 percent growth in commissions and fees and 7 percent organic growth in commissions and fees in the second quarter of 2010 compared with the second quarter of 2009. Willis Capital Markets & Advisory was the primary driver of organic growth in the second quarter as a result of increased capital market activity. Reinsurance and Global Specialties also contributed positive growth in commissions and fees. Reinsurance continues to generate strong new business despite market softness, while the Global Specialties practices, especially Financial and Executive Risks and Energy, were significant contributors to organic growth in the second quarter. Operating margin was 31.8 percent in the second quarter of 2010.

Reported salaries and benefits were $456 million in the second quarter of 2010 compared with $443 million in the second quarter of 2009. Salaries and benefits, as a percentage of revenues, were 57.1 percent in the second quarter of 2010 compared with 56.5 percent in the second quarter of 2009. Salaries and benefits in the second quarter of 2010 include $32 million of amortization of cash retention payments compared with $26 million in the second quarter of 2009. As of June 30, 2010, December 31, 2009 and June 30, 2009, the Company included $217 million, $98 million, and $142 million, respectively, in other assets on the balance sheet, which represented the unamortized portion of cash retention payments made before those dates. Salaries and benefits in the second quarter of 2009 included the pre-tax gain of $12 million on the curtailment of the US pension plan.

Reported other operating expenses were $135 million in the second quarter of 2010 compared with $139 million in the second quarter of 2009. Other operating expenses, as a percentage of revenues, were 16.9 percent in the second quarter of 2010 compared with 17.7 percent in the second quarter of 2009.

Reported operating margin was 21.2 percent for the quarter ended June 30, 2010 compared with 21.0 percent for the same period last year. The operating margin in second quarter of 2009 was impacted by the pre-tax gain of $12 million on the curtailment of the US pension plan. Excluding certain items, which are detailed later in this release, adjusted operating margin was 21.4 percent for the quarter ended June 30, 2010 compared with 21.2 percent a year ago. Adjusted operating margin reflected continued solid growth in organic commissions and fees, rigorous expense management, and favorable foreign currency movements, partially offset by amortization of retention payments.

Six Months 2010 Financial Results

Reported net income from continuing operations for the six months ended June 30, 2010 was $293 million, or $1.71 per diluted share, compared with $279 million, or $1.66 per diluted share, in the same period a year ago. Reported net income from continuing operations for the first six months of 2010 was impacted by a charge of $12 million, or $0.07 per diluted share, relating to the devaluation of the Venezuelan currency and a net loss on disposal of operations of $3 million after tax, or $0.02 per diluted share. Reported net income from continuing operations for the six months ended June 30, 2009 was impacted by certain items, which are detailed later in this release.

Adjusted earnings per diluted share from continuing operations increased 7 percent to $1.80 for the six months ended June 30, 2010 compared with $1.68 in the comparable period of 2009. Foreign currency movements positively impacted adjusted earnings per diluted share by $0.09 in the six months ended June 30, 2010 compared to the same period in 2009. In the first half of 2009, adjusted earnings per diluted share from continuing operations were positively impacted by the US pension curtailment gain of $12 million pre-tax, or $0.04 per diluted share.

Total reported revenues for the six months ended June 30, 2010 were $1,771 million compared with $1,714 million for the same period last year, an increase of 3 percent. Foreign currency movements increased reported revenues by 1 percent.

Organic growth in commissions and fees was 4 percent in the first half of 2010 compared with the comparable period of 2009. This growth reflected net new business won of 6 percent partially offset by a negative 2 percent impact from declining premium rates and other market factors.

Reported operating margin was 26.5 percent for the six months ended June 30, 2010 compared with 25.6 percent for the same period last year. Excluding items detailed later in this release, adjusted operating margin was 27.3 percent for the first half of 2010 compared with 25.8 percent a year ago. Operating margin in the first half of 2009 included the pre-tax gain of $12 million on the curtailment of the US pension plan.

Tax

The effective tax rate was 27.3 percent for the quarter ended June 30, 2010 and 26.4 percent for the six months ended June 30, 2010. Excluding the impact of nonrecurring items, the underlying tax rate for the quarter and six months ended June 30, 2010 was approximately 26.0 percent, the same as the 2009 full year rate.

Capital

As of June 30, 2010, cash and cash equivalents totaled $139 million and total debt was $2.3 billion. Total equity was $2.4 billion.

Dividends The Board of Directors declared a regular quarterly cash dividend on the Company’s ordinary shares of $0.26 per share (an annual rate of $1.04 per share). The dividend is payable on October 15, 2010 to shareholders of record on September 30, 2010.

Conclusion

“I am pleased with the progress we have made in growing our business through the first six months of 2010. While the external environment is still challenging, we are up to the challenge. We continue to manage the business to maximize the opportunity for success in any environment, growing and investing in our business, while keeping a sharp focus on expense management,” Plumeri said.


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