UPDATE 2-Principal Financial 1st-qtr profit falls 35 pct

By Elinor Comlay
May 4, 2009

* Net income 43 cents a share

* Shares rise slightly in after hours trading (Adds detail on investment losses, background to sector, updates share movement)

NEW YORK, May 4 (Reuters) - Principal Financial Group Inc (PFG.N) said on Monday that profit fell 35 percent in the first quarter, due to investment losses.

The provider of mutual funds and annuities said first-quarter net income to common shareholders was $112.8 million, or 43 cents a share, compared with $174.2 million, or 67 cents a share, a year earlier.

Principal Financial's total assets under management fell 22 percent to $236.6 billion from $304.2 billion in the year earlier quarter, largely due to slumping stock prices, the company said.

Shares in Des Moines, Iowa-based Principal climbed about 7 cents in after-hours trading, after closing up 9.72 percent at $16.93 in the regular New York Stock Exchange session.

The Dow Jones U.S. Life Insurance Index .DJUSIL has fallen 21 percent since the start of the year, while Principal Financial shares have fallen almost 25 percent over the same period.

U.S. life insurers broadly have been weakened by the global financial crisis, as investment losses have risen and earnings have slumped.

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