Hartford, MetLife Post Losses Amid Investment Woes

Dan Wilchins
Reuters
April 30, 2009


NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hartford Financial Group (HIG.N) and MetLife Inc, (MET.N), two of the biggest insurers in the United States, posted net losses on Thursday as souring fixed income investments bit into their bottom lines.

The results in both cases were worse than analysts had expected, and the insurers' shares dropped after hours, with Hartford down more than 10 percent.

Both insurers lost money, but the news was worse for Hartford, which has posted losses in the last three quarters. The property and life insurer is selling off businesses and pulling back from major markets including Japan and the United Kingdom, where it will stop selling new policies and annuity products.

The company raised $2.5 billion of capital from Allianz in a deal announced last year, and has slashed its dividend 84 percent, as it looks to rebuild capital.

Hartford and MetLife have both suffered as weakening financial markets have hurt their returns from retirement products known as annuities, and have also cut into returns in their massive investment portfolios.

Hartford posted a first quarter loss of $1.2 billion, or $3.77 a share, compared with earnings of $145 million, or 46 cents a share in the same quarter last year.

MetLife posted a quarterly net loss of $574 million, or 71 cents a share, compared with net income of $615 million, or 84 cents, in the same quarter last year.

Excluding investment returns, Hartford lost $3.66 a share, compared with analysts' average estimate of a loss of $3.15. MetLife's operating income was 20 cents a share, compared with average forecasts of 34 cents, according to Reuters Estimates.

In after-hours trading, MetLife's shares fell 4 percent to $28.52 from their close earlier on Thursday of $29.75. Hartford's shares dropped 11.2 percent to $10.19.

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