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Fitch: Life Insurers Dressed Up 2002 Earnings

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NU Online News Service, April 29, 2003, 3:41 p.m. EDT – U.S. life insurers did worse in 2002 than their full-year statutory financial results might suggest, according to a review of the results by Fitch Ratings, Chicago.

U.S. life insurers coped with a dismal economic environment last year by using reinsurance, accounting changes and sales of appreciated stock that might normally be kept in investment portfolios to dress up their earnings, the Fitch analysts write.

Insurers also took interest rate-related gains to help mask credit-related losses, the analysts report.

But large realized capital losses depleted asset-valuation reserves, and risk-based capital ratios declined materially, the analysts write.