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Earnings: Principal, Jefferson-Pilot, Humana

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Solid growth in health and specialty benefits revenue helped profits at Principal Financial Group Inc. during the fourth quarter of 2005.

Principal, Des Moines, Iowa, is reporting $245 million in net income for the latest quarter on $2.4 billion in revenue, up from $213 million in net income on $2.2 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2004.

Health revenue increased 8% during the quarter and specialty benefits revenue increased 13%, Principal says.

In other earnings news:

- Jefferson-Pilot Corp., Greensboro, N.C., is reporting $150 million in net income for the fourth quarter of 2005 on $1.1 billion in revenue, up from $146 million in net income on $1.1 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2004.

Earnings at the benefits unit fell to $17 million for the latest quarter, from $20 million. Jason Zucker, a securities analyst at Fox-Pitt, Kelton, writes in a comment on the company’s results that Jefferson-Pilot seems be enjoying strong benefits sales but higher-than-expected group life and group long-term disability loss ratios.

- Humana Inc., Louisville, Ky., is reporting $65 million in net income for the fourth quarter of 2005 on $3.7 billion in revenue, up from $47 million in net income on $3.2 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2004.

The managed care company ended the latest quarter providing or administering health coverage for 7.1 million individuals, up from 7 million a year earlier.

Humana says it spent about $20 million to help health plan members living in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas cope with the disruption caused by Hurricane Katrina.