Willis Group Holdings reported a 37 percent decrease in net income, but beat investment analyst's estimates of earnings per share by 3 cents, driving its stock up $2.80 a share by noontime trading.

The London-headquartered insurance broker's stock performance was also fueled by its announcement that it plans to begin a $1 billion stock repurchase program. The plan, the broker said, is an open-ended program where purchases will be made from time to time on the open market and through negotiated trades.

Joe Plumeri, chairman and chief executive officer, said during an analyst's call today that the repurchase plan is an indication of the firm's confidence in its future and its determination to invest in itself.

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