Harris Associates Boosts Its Stake in Willis Group Holdings PLC (WSH)

 Natixis Global Asset Management ‘s Harris Associates increased its position in Willis Group Holdings PLC (NYSE:WSH). According to a recent 13G filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the new holding amounts to 20.59 million shares – almost 10.00% of the company’s common stock, up from the previously owned 17.61 million.

Willis Group Holdings PLC (NYSE:WSH)

Recognized in providing specialized risk management advisory services on a global basis to clients in industries such as aerospace, marine, construction, and energy, Willis Group Holdings PLC (NYSE:WSH) offers a range of insurance brokerage, reinsurance, and risk management consulting services to its clients worldwide. In 2013, it acquired Prime Profession Ltd., a former provider of professional indemnity risk management services.

The company’s stock price rose around 17.00% in the past two years to a current price of around $41.00 per share, almost 19.00 times the company’s earnings. Willis Group Holdings generated earnings of $2.07 per share in 2013, compared to the previous year’s result of $-2.58 per share. In its fourth quarter and full year 2013 results report, the company announced that based on strong earnings per share growth and growth in cash flow from operations during the year, it would increase dividends by 7.00%. In the same report, Willis Group Holdings PLC (NYSE:WSH)’s Chief Executive Officer, Dominic Casserley said “Willis closed 2013 with another quarter of solid organic revenue growth, and each of our businesses achieved our goal of mid-single digit organic growth for the full year.” At the company’s April 2014 Board meeting, the Board of Directors approved a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.30 per share – an annual rate of $1.20 per share. The global risk adviser and insurance broker is expected to deliver earnings of $2.66 per share this year and $2.97 per share in 2015, analysts setting a 1 year target estimate of $46.00 per share for the company’s stock price.

Led by Jean-Marie Eveillard, First Eagle Investment Management is also bullish on Willis Group Holdings PLC (NYSE:WSH), holding 6.27 million shares of the company. Two months ago, Jeffrey Ubben‘s Valueact Capital boosted its stake in the company to 18.40 million shares, after purchasing 207,900 shares at prices between $40.92 and $41.00.

Natixis Global Asset Management is the 14th largest asset management firm in the world. One the largest investments in Harris Associates’ $56.00 billion worth equity portfolio is represented by Oracle Corporation (NYSE:ORCL), in which the fund holds nearly 68.46 million shares.

Disclosure: none

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