Buried in a press release yesterday in which LandAmerica said it will repurchase 9 percent of its outstanding stock -- you've got to give credit for a creative approach here -- was an announcement that the company intends to lay off 1,100 employees, or 13 percent of its workforce, in the second half of 2007. The title agency said that 300 or so layoffs have already taken place, and that the second-half layoffs come on top of approximately 1,000 jobs cut since the beginning of the year. All are part of cost-cutting measures as the title industry adjusts to current market conditions. From the press statement:
The Company expects to incur additional severance charges related to these actions and anticipates that substantially all of the pre-tax charges to earnings and cash expenditures will be incurred in the third and fourth quarters of 2007. [CEO Theodore L. Chandler, Jr.] ... "In these difficult times, we are committed to continuing to execute on our strategic plan, including maximizing operating efficiencies. These reductions are intended to thoughtfully address productivity while preserving our commitment to superior service. We believe these actions further demonstrate our commitment to improving our return on equity for our shareholders and positioning the company for long-term success."
The effect of the housing downturn on the title industry is one story that's probably not been getting enough play in the major media. Yet. (That assumes, of course, that you aren't counting HW among your major media outlets.)