MetLife Posts Lower 3rd-Qtr Operating Profit

by Lilla Zuill and Jonathan Spicer
October 29, 2008

NEW YORK, Oct 29 (Reuters) -MetLife Inc (MET.N), the largest U.S. life insurer, said on Wednesday that operating earnings fell 42 percent in the third quarter, just below analysts' expectations.

Operating earnings totaled $639 million, or 88 cents a share, in line with preliminary estimates issued Oct. 7. On average, analysts expected 89 cents a share.

Operating income, excluding investment gains and losses, is the figure most commonly tracked by insurance analysts.

A year ago, MetLife reported net earnings of $985 million, or $1.29 per share, and operating earnings of $1.1 billion, or $1.52 per share.

The latest results reflected a decline in variable investment income, which it said was about $120 million lower than expected after taxes, or 17 cents per share.

Income from premiums, fees and other revenue rose 16 percent to $8.6 billion in the quarter.

MetLife shares, which fell 23 cents to $29.55 in the regular session, rose to $29.65 after the results were issued.

MetLife said it would maintain an annual common stock dividend of 74 cents per share.

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