April 29, 2010

Profit at Symetra Financial Surges in Q1

The spinoff from Safeco, though, matches forecasts

Symetra Financial reported Thursday, April 29, first quarter profits of $46 million, or 35 cents a share, a huge jump compared to 2009's first quarter when net income was $5 million, or 5 cents a share. The earnings, though, matched analysts' expectations, according to Thomson Reuters.

Symetra, the spinoff from Safeco Corp. based in Bellevue, Washington, went public earlier this year. Symetra, which sells insurance and investment products, said total revenues rose to $453 million from $379 million a year earlier.

"Sales across all distribution channels were good," Randy Talbot, Symetra's CEO, said. "After a dip in fourth quarter 2009, total sales increased in first quarter 2010, supported by the primary capital raised in our initial public offering."

Symetra's retirement services segment, which includes fixed and variable deferred annuities and retirement plans, nearly doubled its profit over the first quarter in 2009, to $17.3 million, up from $9 million. Symetra said its growth in operating income was due to higher interest spreads on increased account values. Sales of fixed deferred annuities led to record-level total account values of $8.8 billion at quarter-end, a 22% increase over $7.2 billion at the end of first quarter 2009.

The income annuities business took a beating because annuity holders were living longer than expected and were therefore receiving more payments. The unit reported income of $6.4 million in first quarter 2010, compared with $14.4 million in the same quarter a year ago. Mortality losses in first quarter 2010 were $0.1 million, compared with higher-than-normal mortality gains of $4.3 million in first quarter 2009.

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