Strong benefits profits helped Hartford Financial Group Inc., Hartford, increase earnings during the fourth quarter of 2004 despite a drop in the flow of cash into variable annuities.[@@]

The company is reporting $620 million in net income for the latest quarter on $6.1 billion in revenue, up from $454 million in net income on $4.8 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2003.

Operating profits increased 56% at the group benefits operation and 23% at the retail products group.

Sales of the new Aviator 401(k) product got off to a quick start, and Hartford’s variable annuities attracted $624 million more in cash than they lost to redemptions, the company says.

Although variable annuity redemptions increased only modestly between the fourth quarter of 2003 and the fourth quarter of 2004, the net flow of cash into Hartford variable annuities fell to $627 million, down from $1.6 billion for the fourth quarter of 2003.

- BISYS Group Inc., New York, a company that sells support and education services to life insurers as well as other financial services companies, is reporting $22 million in net income for the fourth quarter of 2004 on $276 million in revenue, up from $20 million in net income on $261 million in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2003.