MetLife (MET) - Death By Hedge Funds

Tom Taulli
October 8, 2008

MetLife, Inc. (MET), which is the largest life insurer in the U.S., got its start 140 years ago. But the recent couple weeks may have been the toughest as the stock price has plunged.

It seems MetLife's woes have just started, though, as the company announced Tuesday it has withdrawn its 2008 earnings estimates. As for Q3, the company expects operating profits of $600 million to $675 million.

At the same time, the company wants to sell 75 million shares to bolster its capital (obviously, this is something that's pretty dilutive in the current environment).

Interestingly enough, MetLife is feeling the pain from heavy investments in alternatives such as hedge funds and private equity. What's more, MetLife holds positions in losers such as Washington Mutual and Lehman Brothers.

Of course, MetLife is not alone. If anything, major insurers have been quite aggressive with alternative investments. Just take Hartford Financial Services Group Inc (HIG), which recently pre-announced weak results and raised $2.5 billion from Allianz. This firm too has had to take charges for its alternative investments.

MetLife shares are trading down 6.4% in pre-market trade.

Tom Taulli is the author of various books, including The Complete M&A Handbook and The Edgar Online Guide to Decoding Financial Statements. He is also the founder of BizEquity, a valuation website.
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