Ratings Growth Carries McGraw-Hill to 1Q Beat

McGraw-Hill (NYSE:MHP), the parent of Standard & Poor’s Ratings Service, easily exceeded forecasts on Tuesday with a surge in first-quarter profits thanks to one-time gains tied to the sale of its education business and a healthy rise in ratings revenue.

Shares of the company ticked higher on the earnings beat and new disclosures about a settlement by its S&P unit.

Reflecting the decision to unload the education unit to a private-equity firm for $2.4 billion, the company also revealed plans to rename itself McGraw Hill Financial, subject to shareholder approval.

McGraw-Hill said it earned $735 million, or $2.59 a share, last quarter, compared with a profit of $123 million, or 43 cents a share, a year earlier. The leap in earnings was driven by a gain of $612 million tied to discontinued operations at the education business.

Excluding one-time items, the company earned 80 cents a share, besting forecasts from analysts for 73 cents.

Revenue jumped 14% to $1.18 billion, narrowly topping the Street’s view of $1.17 billion. However, expenses jumped 20% to $903 million.

“The company is off to a strong start with the revenue and earnings growth we delivered in the first quarter," CEO Harold McGraw III said in a statement.

S&P generated a 20% rise in quarterly revenue to $561 million thanks to strong corporate issuance and a recovery in domestic structured finance issuance. Operating profits soared 39% to $259 million.

McGraw-Hill has been in the legal spotlight of late, highlighted by a crisis-era lawsuit against S&P from the U.S. and states attorney general that alleges the ratings company misrepresented its ratings.

S&P revealed on Tuesday it paid $77 million to settle its share of a lawsuit brought against it Moody’s (NYSE:MCO) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) by 14 plaintiffs. The settlement was announced last week, just in time to avoid a trial.

As part of the name change, McGraw-Hill said it will begin trading under the symbol “MHFI” in May.

Shares of New York-based McGraw-Hill rose 2.43% to $54.75 in premarket action on Tuesday, putting them on pace to slash their 2.2% decline so far this year.