Insurance broker and financial-consulting firm Marsh & McLennan
Marsh Mac, as the company is also known, released first-quarter earnings yesterday reporting a measly 1% sales increase in its insurance brokering division. The Marsh division was flat, and the Guy Carpenter reinsurance broker segment saw only 4% top-line growth. The entire Risk and Insurance segment remains very profitable, with operating margins of more than 17%, but it hasn't been able to grow sales or profits meaningfully. The previous hit to its reputation has only emboldened rivals such as Aon
The consulting division is another story, seeing almost 13% revenue growth and a 22% jump in operating income. Consulting revenue accounted for only 40% of sales for the quarter, but it was also the primary reason Marsh Mac could report a 14% increase in net income from continuing operations.
The Putnam money-management division is no longer considered part of core operations, as Marsh Mac plans to sell Putnam to Great West Lifeco of Canada by the end of the second quarter. The transaction is expected to bring in $3.9 billion, of which $500 million will go to share repurchases.
The added capital could allow Marsh Mac to acquire a faster-growing business to boost overall corporate growth. Plus, the related stock buyback will at least help boost reported earnings, as a result of fewer shares outstanding, and a 2.4% dividend is some consolation to shareholders until growth improves. But until Marsh & McLennan proves able to put past improprieties behind it once and for all, the stock will likely continue to tread water.
For related Foolishness:
Got an opinion on Marsh Mac? Bring it to Motley Fool CAPS!
Fool contributor Ryan Fuhrmann is long shares of Marsh Mac but has no financial interest in any other company mentioned. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy. Feel free to email him with feedback or to discuss any companies mentioned further.