Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Midland stock rises on news of split

But company says forecast too high

By Jeff McKinney, jmckinney@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Shares of Midland Co. rose 3.8 percent Monday after the specialty insurer said it plans a 2-for-1 stock split.

        Midland's stock jumped $1.81 to close at $48.95 as its board declared the split for shareholders of record July 8, payable to investors of record in mid-July. The Batavia Township company last split the stock 3-for-1 May 21, 1998.

        The shares rose despite Midland also saying it expects second-quarter share earnings of 70 cents to 80 cents on a pre-split basis. That was below the 84-cent consensus forecast of analysts surveyed by Thomson-First Call. The insurer had pre-split second-quarter operating earnings of 51 cents a share last year.

        John Von Lehman, Midland's chief financial officer, called the analysts' estimate aggressive, saying they did not take into account seasonal factors such as storms that typically could affect the company's results.

        Still, other analysts were bullish with the news.

        Kenneth Billingsley of Friedman, Billings Ramsey in Arlington, Va., said the split could help boost Midland's trading volume.

        “We see this as positive and something that could drum up more interest in the stock, particularly now with liquidity being less of an issue,” Mr. Billingsley said.


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