NU Online News Service, Feb. 2, 2004, 9:20 p.m. EST – Higher employee benefits revenue helped boost profits at Jefferson-Pilot Corp. in the fourth quarter of 2003.[@@]

The Greensboro, N.C., financial services and broadcasting company is reporting $116.3 million in net income for the latest quarter on $901.6 million in revenue, up from $66.6 million in net income on $839.5 million in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2002.

The individual insurance unit and the annuity unit showed steady growth.

Individual insurance profits increased to $80.4 million, from $74.7 million, despite a sharp drop in sales of bank-owned life insurance.

Jefferson-Pilot managed to hold its spread on fixed annuities at 1.83%, down only slightly from a spread of 1.86% for the fourth quarter of 2002, while increasing its FA sales to $321 million, from $187.4 million. Some other insurers pulled back from the FA market during the quarter because of difficulties with maintaining spreads.

Profits at the Benefit Partners unit rose to $16.2 million, from $12.8 million, even as new annualized benefits sales fell to $48.8 million, from $50.9 million.