NU Online News Service, July 27, 2004, 5:43 p.m. EDT

Slow sales at some channels in Japan held down second-quarter profit growth at AFLAC Inc., Columbus, Ohio.[@@]

The supplemental insurance company that populated the world with armies of soft, furry stuffed ducks is reporting $265 million in net income for the latest quarter on $3.2 billion in revenue, up from $248 million in net income on $2.9 billion in revenue for the second quarter of 2003.

Although net income increased 6.7%, the gain might have been bigger if sales in Japan were stronger, the company says.

Sales through a large Japanese insurer, Dai-ichi Mutual Life Insurance Company, Tokyo, and conversions of a popular supplemental medical insurance rider were down, but sales through other Japanese channels were up 2.5%, AFLAC says.

AFLAC is known for creating the modern Japanese cancer insurance market.

In the United States, new sales were up 6.4%, and sales of the core accident and disability policies were strong, AFLAC says.