Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FPIC Insurance Sees Stock Slowly Turning Around

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FPIC Insurance Sees Stock Slowly Turning Around

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Basch, Times-Union business writer

Shareholders of FPIC Insurance Group Inc. have seen a lot of distressing news over the last three years, as the stock fell from a high of $50.88 in July 1999 to a low of $3.50 last October. But at least one analyst thinks things are looking up.

David Lewis of SunTrust Robinson Humphrey said in a report last week that FPIC's "solid" fourth-quarter earnings report "confirmed our belief that claim trends at FPIC are stabilizing and that balance sheet strength is building, positioning the company to prosper in the current hard underwriting market."

The Jacksonville-based medical malpractice insurer reported fourth-quarter operating earnings of 36 cents a share, above Lewis' forecast of 34 cents. The analyst projects FPIC's operating earnings to rise from $1.27 in 2002 to $1.40 this year and $1.70 in 2004.

The earnings report sent FPIC's stock up $1.03 to $5.94 last Thursday, and Lewis said the stock could reach $10 by the end of this year. That's a long way from its lofty $50 peak, but at least it's a start.

RADIO INROADS

Salem Communications Corp., which has agreed to buy four Jacksonville radio stations from Concord Media Group Inc., already has an inroad in the Jacksonville market.

Nancy Epperson, wife of Salem's chief executive officer and sister of Salem's chairman, is the president of New Covenant Educational Ministries Inc. …

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