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Willis Towers (WLTW) Q1 Earnings Beat Estimates, Down Y/Y

Willis Towers Watson plc WLTW reported first-quarter 2016 adjusted net income of $3.41 per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.80. Earnings declined 2.3% year over year due to higher expenses.

Including one-time adjustments, net income came in at $1.75, down 425 year over year.

Operational Updates

Adjusted revenues improved 13% (16% constant currency growth, 1% organic growth), year over year to $2.3 billion.

Total costs of providing services shot up 140% to $1.9 billion.

Adjusted operating income increased 91% year over year to $646 million. Operating margin contracted 260 basis points to 28.5%

Adjusted EBITDA was $671 million, or 29.6% of adjusted revenues, higher than $579 million, or 28.8% of revenues in the year-ago quarter.

On a year-over-year basis, commissions, fees and consulting revenues shot up 105% to $2.2 billion while interest and other income more than doubled to $15 million.

Quarterly Segment Update

Willis GB: Revenues of $139 million declined 2% (flat constant currency and 2% organic decrease). Operating margin was 14%.

Willis Capital, Wholesale and Reinsurance: Commissions and fees of $331 million improved 12% (14% constant currency growth but 3% organic decrease). Operating margin was 46% in the quarter.    

Willis North America: Commissions and fees of $368 million improved 3% (3% constant currency growth and 4% organic growth). Operating margin was 23%.

Willis International: Commission and fees of $481 million improved 68% (84% constant currency growth and 5% organic decrease). Operating margin was 30%.

Towers Watson Benefits: Revenues of $486 million declined 2% (1% constant currency growth). Operating margin was 30%.

Towers Watson Exchange Solutions: Revenues of $152 million improved 57% (57% constant currency growth). Operating margin was 36%.

Towers Watson Risk and Financial Services: Revenues of $144 million declined 8% (4% constant currency decline). Operating margin was 23% in the quarter.

Towers Watson Talent and Rewards: Revenues of $124 million decreased 11% (9% constant currency decline). Operating margin was 10%.

Financial Position

Willis Towers exited the quarter with cash and cash equivalents of $954 million, up 79% over the 2015-end level.

Total long-term debt was $2.8 billion on Mar 31, 2016, 21% above the 2015-end level.

Cash from operations was $118 million in the quarter compared with outflows of $64 million in the year-ago quarter.

2016 Guidance

Willis Towers Watson projects adjusted earnings per share between $7.70 and $7.95. Constant currency revenue growth is expected in the low double digits.

Zacks Rank

Willis Towers presently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

Performance of Other Insurance Brokers

The bottom line at Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc. MMC, Brown & Brown Inc. BRO and Aon plc AON beat their respective Zacks Consensus Estimate in the first quarter.

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MARSH &MCLENNAN (MMC): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
AON PLC (AON): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
BROWN & BROWN (BRO): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
WILLIS TWRS WAT (WLTW): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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