Black Knight's earnings drop, but software unit drives revenue growth

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Black Knight reported lower net earnings, but higher revenue in the fourth quarter compared with the previous year, driven by growth in the company's software segment.

Net earnings for the quarter of $42.8 million were flat with $43 million in the third quarter, but down from $147.2 million one year prior, but the fourth-quarter 2017 results were boosted by a $110.9 million tax benefit resulting from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

But Black Knight's revenue grew to $285.4 million for the quarter, up 7%, and $1.14 billion for the full year, up 6%.

During the fourth quarter of 2017, Fidelity National Financial completed its divestiture of Black Knight. For its first full year as an independent company, Black Knight earned $168.5 million, down from $182.3 million in 2017.

The year-ago results included the benefit from the revaluation of the net deferred income tax liability, which was partially offset by the effect of the noncontrolling interests prior to the spin-off, expenses associated with a debt redemption and higher interest expense.

In 2018, "we consistently executed against our long-term strategic initiatives to drive organic growth," said Black Knight Executive Chairman Bill Foley in a press release. "We continued our success in cross-selling to existing clients, winning new clients in existing markets and delivering innovative new solutions. We are excited and optimistic about our growth opportunities in 2019 and beyond, as we continue to drive our company forward and deliver long-term value for our shareholders."

Black Knight acquired Ernst Publishing, a provider of loan fee information, in November.

The software solutions segment had a 6% increase year-over-year for the fourth quarter in adjusted revenue to $245.8 million from $231.2 million. It was driven by 7% growth in servicing software solutions and 4% in origination software solutions.

Operating income totaled $114.1 million for the fourth quarter, up from $109.3 million one year prior. For the full year, operating income was $454.3 million, up from $415.3 million in 2017.

For the full year, adjusted revenue from software solutions was up 6% to $962 million, compared with $904.5 million in 2017.

In the data and analytics segment, adjusted revenue increased 7% in the fourth quarter over the previous year to $39.8 million from $37.2 million. This was due to growth in the portfolio analytics and multiple listing service businesses, Black Knight said.

There was a 2% increase in adjusted revenue for this segment for the full year, to $154.5 million from $151.5 million in 2017.

Operating income was $7.3 million for the quarter and $25.4 million for the year. This was up from $6.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2017, but down from $25.6 million for the full year.

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