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Charges Hurt Ameriprise Earnings

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Lawsuit settlement payments and other unusual expenses led to a 38% drop in profits at Ameriprise Financial Inc. during the third quarter.[@@]

Ameriprise, Minneapolis, a large life insurer formerly known as American Express Financial Advisors, is reporting $125 million in net income for the latest quarter on $1.9 billion in revenue, compared with $199 million in net income on $1.7 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2004.

The company is reporting as an independent public company for the first time.

American Express Company, New York, the former parent of Ameriprise, converted Ameriprise into a stand-alone public company earlier this year by making a special distribution of Ameriprise stock to American Express shareholders.

Although asset-management revenue rose 12% and sales of universal life and variable universal life increased 14%, term life sales rose only 4%.

Net earnings include $46 million in charges related to the settlement of a class-action securities lawsuit.

Ameriprise settled the suit without admitting any liability.

Andrew Kligerman, a senior life insurance analyst at UBS Investment Research, New York, is describing the results as “noisy” because of the effects of the one-time charges.

John Nadel, an analyst at Fox-Pitt, Kelton, New York, agrees that the results include a lot of “moving parts” that distort comparisons, but he says company operations did better than he had expected.