NU Online News Service, Feb. 12, 11:59 a.m. – MetLife Inc., New York, is reporting a $296 million net loss for the fourth quarter of 2001 on $8.4 billion in revenue, compared with $591 million in net income on $8.4 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2000.

Net results for the latest quarter include $404 million in unusual charges, including $330 million in costs for restructuring MetLife’s operations and $172 million in investment losses. The company also set aside $159 million to prepare for payments it might have to make as a result of a national, multi-carrier investigation into race-based insurance pricing practices.

Adjusted operating income, which excludes the charges, increased to $439 million, from $404 million.

Despite the large fourth-quarter loss and $208 million in losses related to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, MetLife is reporting $473 million in net income for the year.

MetLife’s individual business unit generated $187 million in after-tax earnings for the fourth quarter on $4.1 billion in premium and deposit revenue, up from $198 million in earnings on $3.6 billion in revenue. New sales of mutual funds fell to $692 million for the fourth quarter, from $1.1 billion, but new sales revenue increased to $209 million, from $161 million, for individual variable and universal life insurance; to $272 million, from $212 million, for individual traditional life insurance; and to $1.8 billion, from $1.2 billion, for individual annuities.

The institutional unit, which sells pension services and employee benefits, generated $220 million in earnings for the quarter on $2.1 billion in revenue, up from $163 million in earnings on $2.1 billion in revenue.

Although life industry executives and analysts have worried about the effects of low interest rates and weak stock market returns on life insurance earnings, MetLife says investment margins for its institutional unit were higher in the fourth quarter.