MetLife Posts 12 Pct Drop In 4th Quarter Profit

By Lilla Zuill
February 3, 2009

* Q4 revenue $13.96 bln

* Shares rise about 3 pct post-market

* Operating earnings beat Wall Street view (Adds detail on operating earnings, Reuters Estimates)

NEW YORK, Feb 3 (Reuters) - MetLife Inc (MET.N), the largest U.S. life insurer, said on Tuesday that earnings fell in the fourth quarter, hurt by lower investment income, but beating Wall Street expectations, sending its shares higher.

MetLife said net income was $954 million, or $1.20 a share, a decline of 12 percent from the $1.08 billion, or $1.44 a share, earned in the year-earlier quarter.

Operating earnings fell to $148 million, or 19 cents a share, from $1.2 billion, or $1.54 a share, in the year-ago quarter.

Analysts on average expected MetLife to earn 14 cents a share on that basis, according to Reuters Estimates.

The company's shares rose 3.1 percent in after-market trading after closing down 1.9 percent at $28.52 in the regular session.

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