Aon Corporation saw major gains in profit this quarter, halting a run that had seen profits decline through much of fiscal year 2010. Today, the company released the financial results of Q1 2011, citing its acquisition of Hewitt Associates as almost solely responsible for the surge in both profit and revenue. Analysts, who had predicted more modest increases, also noted the superb performance of the new Aon Hewitt consulting unit.
Profit increased 38 percent from Q1 2010, to $246 million. Likewise, revenue surged 45 percent to nearly $3 billion, an increase the company attributes to "a 42% increase in commissions and fees resulting from acquisitions, primarily Hewitt." The Hewitt acquisition was also primarily responsible for a whopping 247 percent increase in HR Solutions revenue to more than $1 billion.
"We delivered solid organic revenue growth in our Retail Brokerage and Consulting Services businesses while delivering on the synergy savings related to Aon Hewitt," said Aon CEO Greg Case. The Wall Street Journal reports that that organic revenue growth only accounted for 2 percent of the 45 percent overall revenue growth, attributing the rest to the Hewitt acquisition.
The Journal also notes that Moody's "raised its outlook on Aon last month, citing its progress in integrating the acquisition."
As is the case with any major acquisition, Aon is still dealing with the costs of integrating Hewitt into the fold, which might explain why the firm could bring in more than $8 billion this year and only come away with a few hundred million in net income. For example, compensation and benefits costs rose 233 percent ($457 million) in Q1 as a result of the acquisition; overall operating expenses increased by 45 percent ($732 million) as a result of integration costs. Despite the setbacks, the firm expects to stop paying and start saving from Hewitt's integration by 2013.
Aon, which fancies its new consulting unit the "global leader in human resource consulting and outsourcing solutions," bought Hewitt's consulting division in October 2010 for $4.9 billion. The company has since embarked on an ambitious path to become larger, more profitable, and more visible. Last year, Aon inked a blockbuster sponsorship deal with Manchester United, one of the world's most popular football clubs, which has seen the Aon logo splashed across the front of United shirts this season (and for three more seasons to come).
As a result of these high-profile successes, Aon's stock is up more than 20 percent from this time last year.
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Aon Reports First Quarter 2011 Results
Photo: Charles Rex Arbogast, AP