NU Online News Service, Feb. 2, 2004, 8:45 p.m. EST – Strong group retirement product sales helped Nationwide Financial Services Inc. overcome a retreat from the fixed annuity market in the fourth quarter of 2003.[@@]

The Columbus, Ohio, insurer is reporting $103.7 million in net income for the latest quarter on $1 billion in operating revenue, up from $97.7 million in net income on $992 million in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2002.

Revenue from individual annuity sales fell to $146.7 million, from $462.9 million, because Nationwide coped with low interest rates and narrow FA profit margins by reducing sales of the product through financial institutions.

But sales through broker-dealers increased 8%, and sales of retirement products and other products through affiliated distributors increased 18%, Nationwide says.

Sales of institutional products, such as 401(k) plans, increased 33%, to $566.8 million.