Why Erie Indemnity's Shares Dropped

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of insurance exchange manager Erie Indemnity (NAS: ERIE) took a hit today, falling as much as 12% in intraday trading after the company reported first-quarter results.

So what: Total revenue for the quarter climbed 11% from a year ago, but net income attributable to Erie Indemnity fell 18% to $36 million. On a per-share basis, shareholders earned $0.67, which was well short of the $0.80 that analysts were expecting.

Now what: For investors keeping an eye on Wall Street's estimates, the first-quarter results were certainly a disappointment. It's notable, however, that there are only two analysts that offered estimates for the company, so the average estimate doesn't represent much of a range. In addition, the drop in year-over-year profit was largely attributable to a big decline in investment performance and private equity and real estate investments in particular. As investment performance can end up fluctuating more than underlying operations, this may be good reason for investors to view this quarter in perspective of the bigger picture.

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