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What: Shares of risk assessment and analytics services company Verisk Analytics (NASDAQ:VRSK) jumped as much as 10% in early trading Wednesday, before settling at about a 7% gain. So far in 2015, the company's stock is up 13% after finishing 2014 about where it started.
So what: Verisk released fourth-quarter earnings late on Tuesday, beating analyst estimates for adjusted earnings per share and revenue. Overall, the company increased sales and net income each by 11.6% in the quarter, and by 9.5% and 14.8% for the full year, respectively.
Now what: Management said on the earnings call that it plans to continue exploring merger and acquisition targets, along with share repurchases, as ways to increase shareholder returns. Verisk's board approved an additional $500 million toward stock buybacks, equal to about 0.47% of current shares. In the quarter, the company made two small acquisitions of foreign companies. CEO Scott Stephenson said much of its international growth will be through acquisitions.
While the company has grown net income markedly over the past few years, cash from operations and free cash flow actually declined in 2014. Investors need to keep a close eye on this trend.
Jason Hall has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.