NU Online News Service, May 4, 2004, 2:12 p.m. EDT – Strong sales, solid underwriting results and improving investment quality contributed to a big gain in first-quarter net income at MetLife Inc., New York.[@@]

The company is reporting $523 million in net income for the latest quarter on $9.5 billion in revenue, up from $362 million in net income on $8.4 billion in revenue for the first quarter of 2003.

Narrow annuity spreads and the cost of closing offices bit into individual business results, but an 84% increase in fees for investment-type annuity products helped the individual business unit increase its operating earnings 15%, to $184 million.

Institutional business earnings climbed 45%, to $317 million.