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