Arthur J. Gallagher reports gains, sees acquisitions ahead

Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.'s Chicago office
Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.'s Chicago office

By Jingnan Huo

Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. reported late Thursday fourth-quarter net earnings attributable to controlling interests of $95.1 million, a 52.6 percent jump from the year-earlier $62.3 million. Diluted net earnings per share were 53 cents compared with 35 cents.

Revenues grew 3.8 percent to $1.39 billion, 0.5 percent less than the estimate, from $1.33 billion.

The company’s principal segment, insurance brokerage, reported growth in organic revenue, which excludes acquisitions and currency exchange, of 3.6 percent. That was above estimates, said Paul Newsome, equity analyst at Sandler O’Neill and Partners, in an interview. The growth was boosted by international markets, notably in Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and Bermuda, said President and CEO J. Patrick Gallagher in a conference call.

Merger and acquisition activity in the second half of 2016 was slower than normal as sellers chose to close early in 2017 in hope of tax reform, Gallagher said. More such consolidations are expected, he added, as the “merger and acquisition pipeline remains robust with about $200 million of revenues associated with about 40 term sheets either agreed-upon, issued or being prepared.”

“They are very well positioned for 2017 in terms of numbers of acquisitions that they’ve already completed. Very strong pipeline of acquisitions that they are ready to complete this year,” said Mark Dwelle, equity analyst at RBC Capital Markets, in an interview.

Dwelle also remarked that “Gallagher would figure to benefit from reduced corporate tax rates, certainly, particularly to the extent any of the new policies is to drive any of the new GDP, new employment, this is sure to drive more demand for insurance products. GDP growth is always good for insurers; there’s always more activity to be insured.”

The company declared a dividend of 38 cents per share.

The stock rose 1.5 percent to close at $54.62 Friday.

Photo at top: Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.’s Chicago Office (Jingnan Huo/MEDILL)