Financial Stocks Edging Higher Near Close; Willis Group Sinks After Missing Q1 EPS Projections


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Financial stocks were narrowly higher Wednesday with the NYSE Financial Sector Index climbing about 0.2% and the S&P Financial 100 Index rising around 0.3%.

In company news, shares of the Willis Group ( WSH ) slid Wednesday after the insurance broker reported Q1 net income trailing Wall Street projections and announcing plans for a new company reorganization and costs-saving plan.

Excluding non-recurring items, WSH earned $1.36 per share, during the three months ended March 31, lagging expectations for the period by $0.05 per share. Revenue rose 4.4% year over year to $1.1 billion, matching the consensus view.

The company also said it was taking additional steps to strengthen client services while cutting expenses by around $420 million through the end of 2017. It plans to shift more than 3,500 support positions to lower-cost locations while also consolidating offices and reducing the average amount of floor space per employee. It also plans for an unspecified number of layoffs resulting in a net reduction of support personnel.

Starting in 2018, WSH is projecting the changes will produce around $300 million a year in savings. It reported $771 million in expenses during the latest January-to-March period.

WSH shares were down nearly 5% at $41.23 each late in Wednesday's session, earlier falling to a session low of $40.47 a share. The stock has a range of $38.68 to $47.22 a share over the past 52 weeks, rising almost 6% over that span.

In other sector news,

(+) ANH, Reports Q1 net income of $0.09 per share, beating the Capital IQ consensus by $0.01 per share. Book value rises 2.0% during the quarter to $6.10 per share.

(-) FFBC, Acquires Guernesy Bancorp for $13.5 mln in cash along with the transfer of a bank-owned property worth $1 mln to Guernesy's lone shareholder. Also reports in-line Q1 EPS of $0.28.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

Copyright (C) 2014 All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: WSH

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