MetLife posts 1Q loss

Associated Press
April 30, 2009

(AP) - MetLife Inc. posted a first-quarter loss on Thursday, as declining revenue from premiums and losses on investments pushed the life insurance company's results below Wall Street's expectations.

Shares in MetLife fell $1.15, or 3.9%, to $28.60 in after-hours trading. The stock added 7 cents to end the regular session at $29.75 before the release of the company's earnings report.

New York-based MetLife lost $574 million, or 71 cents per share, in the first three months of the year. Last year, MetLife made a profit of $615 million, or 84 cents per share.

Sales dropped 12% to $10.2 billion, almost $2 billion short of Wall Street analysts' expectations for $11.9 billion in revenue. Revenue from premiums, fees and other revenue slipped 2%.

Like other insurers, MetLife has been hurt by stock market declines in recent months. The company said its loss on investments widened to $618 million, taking into account taxes. Its net investment income declined 24% to $3.3 billion from $4.3 billion in the year-ago quarter.

MetLife emphasizes operating income because it excludes such losses and is considered more reflective of the company's performance. The company said operating income totaled 20 cents per share.

That's still much less than Wall Street was expecting. Thomson Reuters says analysts were looking for a per-share profit of 34 cents.

Operating income dropped in MetLife's institutional business, which includes group life insurance and retirement and savings. Its individual business, which includes traditional life insurance, swung to an operating loss.

The company paid out $6.6 billion in policyholder benefits and claims in the quarter, essentially flat from a year ago.

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