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Merrill Lynch Analysts Optimistic About Life Insurers

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NU Online News Service, Sept. 24, 2:30 p.m. – Despite the financial loss from the Sept. 11 terror attacks, almost all of the life insurance companies they follow will report operating profits in the third quarter of the year, say analysts with Merrill Lynch & Company, New York, in a recent research report.

However, the analysts say they have revised earnings estimates downward, citing the impact of the decline in the equity market and an assumption of elevated credit losses.

Merrill Lynch follows 13 life insurers: AFLAC Inc., Columbus, Ga.; Conseco Inc., Carmel, Ind.; Hartford Financial Services Group, Hartford, Conn.; Jefferson-Pilot Corp., Greenboro, N.C.; Lincoln National Corp., Philadelphia; Metlife Inc., New York; Nationwide Financial Services Inc., Columbus, Ohio; Phoenix Companies, Hartford, Conn.; Protective Life Corp., Birmingham, Ala.; StanCorp Financial Group, Portland, Ore.; Torchmark Corp., Birmingham, Ala. and UnumProvident Corp., Chattanooga, Tenn.