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Willis reports organic growth, beats Wall Street expectations

Willis Group Holdings Plc last night reported organic growth of 4.1 percent in the first quarter of 2013 and exceeded Wall Street expectations. The London-based broker posted a first-quarter net income of $219 million or $1.24 per share, down from $225 million or $1.28 per share a year ago. The company attributes the decline, in part, to a charge incurred during the first quarter related to headcount reduction and “property and systems rationalisation costs”. The charge of $46 million is expected to drive future savings starting in the second quarter, the company’s earnings report stated. Adjusted net income for the first quarter however, improved to $257 million or $1.46 per share, easily beating the predictions of the 16 analysts polled by Yahoo Finance who expected earnings of $1.31 per share for the quarter. Adjusted net income for the same period a year ago was $233 million or $1.32 per share. Total revenues for the quarter grew to $1.05 billion from $1.01 billion last year. Analysts expected revenues of $1.05 billion for the quarter. "We are very pleased with our solid results in the first quarter, spread evenly throughout our business," said Dominic Casserley, CEO of Willis Group Holdings. "We will continue working to build on the positive trajectory of our organic growth over the last two quarters. As shown by our first quarter charge, our efforts are also focused on tempering expense growth and delivering strong, sustainable results over the long term." Commissions and fees for Willis Group improved to $1.05 billion in the first quarter of 2013, up from $1.00 billion in the prior year quarter. Organic commissions and fees grew 4.1 percent excluding the net impact of acquisitions and disposals and foreign currency movements. Investment income for Willis Group declined to $4 million in the first quarter of 2013 from $5 million in the first quarter of 2012.