Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FPIC Inches Closer to Regaining Its Former Glory

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FPIC Inches Closer to Regaining Its Former Glory

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Basch

It's been a long climb, but FPIC Insurance Group Inc. is inching closer to its 1999 peak as it continues to report strong earnings.

The Jacksonville-based medical malpractice insurer rose as much as $2.18 to a high of $45.92 last Tuesday after reporting fourth-quarter earnings from continuing operations rose 33 percent to $9.9 million, or 94 cents per diluted share.

That was the highest stock price since FPIC peaked at $50.88 in July 1999.

After reaching that high, the stock dropped spectacularly amid a series of disappointing financial reports and questions about the company's use of loss reserves to cover claims.

The stock eventually bottomed at $3.50 in 2002.

Insurance rating company A.M. Best last week upgraded its ratings on FPIC, citing the fourth-quarter earnings report "as well as management's progress over the past several years, which has led to a much improved book of business, less reinsurance dependence and a more robust balance sheet."


Vulcan Materials Co. dropped slightly last Tuesday after the company announced its planned acquisition of Florida Rock Industries Inc., with some investors wondering if the $4.6 billion price tag was a bit steep.

But Vulcan's stock surged as much as $14.65 to $125.79 on Wednesday after BB&T Capital Markets analyst John Kasprzak raised his price target on the stock from $115 to $125. Kasprzak cited the long-term benefits of the Florida Rock deal, which will give Birmingham-based Vulcan a major presence in the Florida market. That was the same justification Vulcan gave for the high price of the deal, which represented a 45 percent premium for Florida Rock stockholders.

Vulcan's shares have actually been surging all year. The stock finished 2006 at $89.87.

The additional rise in Vulcan's stock makes the merger even more valuable for Florida Rock shareholders. …

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