NU Online News Service, Feb. 14, 4:15 p.m. – Minnesota Life Insurance Company, St. Paul, Minn., is reporting $70 million in net income for 2001 on $2.5 billion in sales revenue, compared with $235 million in net income on $2.3 billion in sales revenue for 2000.

The drop in earnings was caused by lower returns on stock investments, lower interest rates on bonds, and one-time charges for legal expenses, the company says.

Minnesota Life, a mutual insurer, does not publish the same sorts of detailed quarterly earnings updates that publicly traded insurers usually release.

But net income fell to $29 million for the fourth quarter of 2001, from $33 million for the fourth quarter of 2000.

Results for the latest quarter include higher claims and marketing expenses in one business unit.

Loss of seed money in a mutual fund depressed earnings for the fourth quarter of 2000.

Life insurance in force rose 21%, to $300 billion at the end of 2001, because of strong group life insurance sales in the large employer market, Minnesota Life says.