MBIA, Nasdaq, ICE & Greenhill

Jan 31, 2008 @ 2:27 pm

By Aaron Siegel

MBIA Inc. posted a serious loss in the fourth quarter, while The Nasdaq Stock Market Inc., Intercontinental Exchange Inc., and Greenhill & Co. posted gains.

MBIA, the troubled Armonk, N.Y.-based bond insurer posted a $2.3 billion loss, or $18.61 per share, after earning $181 million, or $1.32 per share, in the year-ago period.

It recorded a write-down of $3.5 billion, reducing earnings by $18.04 per share, which was mostly due to the reduced value of collateralized debt obligations in its insured portfolio.

The company also took a $713.5 million pre-tax loss on its exposure to rising delinquencies and defaults among home equity products.

That amount included $100 million that was placed in reserve to cover potential future losses.

Nasdaq’s profit rose 25%, resulting from an increase in trading volume due to market volatility and greater fees.

The New York-based electronic exchange said fourth-quarter earnings increased to $79 million, or 52 cents per share, up from $63 million, or 43 cents a share during the year-ago period.

The earnings excluded a $18.2 million increase related to foreign currency option contracts and charges of $1.1 million stemming from retiring debt.

Nasdaq, which is in the process of acquiring Stockholm, Sweden-based OMX AB, said its exchange revenue increased 16% to $211.6 million.

Intercontinental Exchange reported profit that spiked 32% as the acquisition of the New York Board of Trade boosted trading volume.

The Atlanta-based exchange said earnings rose to $64.7 million, or 90 cents per share, up from $49 million, or 81 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Profit was reduced by $3 million due to stock compensation paid to employees.

Daily trading volume on ICE's European and North American futures exchanges grew 25% and 26%, respectively, with 192 million contracts traded.

Aflac earnings increased 15%, due to strong sales in Japan and the weakening value of the Japanese yen.

The Columbus, Ga.-based insurer said earnings rose to $382 million, or 78 cents per share, down from $332 million, or 67 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Sales of new policies in Japan rose 2.7% in the quarter, while sales of new policies in the U.S. rose 5.9%.

Greenhill’s profit increased 43% on larger fees from advising on mergers.

The New York-based boutique investment bank increased to $28.5 million, or $10.2 per share, up from $20 million or 68 cents per share, during the year-ago period.

The company’s advising fees grew by 47%, while merchant banking fees fell 27%.

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