Major U.S. life and health insurers have published a series of sobering earnings releases this week.

MetLife Inc., New York

4 Q 2008 Results

NET INCOME: $985 million

NET REALIZED INVESTMENT CHANGE: $2.1 billion gain

REVENUE: $14 billion

4 Q 2007 Results

NET INCOME: $1.1 billion

NET REALIZED INVESTMENT CHANGE: $94 million loss

REVENUE: $12 billion

- Institutional premium revenue increased 18%, to $4.2 billion.

- Non-medical health premiums and fees increased 13%, in part because of continuing strong growth in dental revenue.

- Variable annuity deposits fell to $3.8 billion, from $4 billion, and fixed annuity deposits rose to $499 million, from $320 million.

- The average annualized general account spread fell to 2.01%, from 2.7%, for individual annuities.

- The retirement and savings unit is reporting a $618 million net loss, compared with $211 million in net income for the fourth quarter of 2007, in part because of $712 million in net investment losses.

Prudential Financial Inc., Newark, N.J.

4 Q 2008 Results

CONSOLIDATED NET INCOME: $1.6 billion loss

NET FINANCIAL SERVICES BUSINESS REALIZED CAPITAL CHANGE: $511 million loss

FINANCIAL SERVICES BUSINESS INVESTMENT CHANGE ON TRADING ACCOUNT ASSETS: $815 million loss

CONSOLIDATED REVENUE: $6.7 billion

4 Q 2007 Results

CONSOLIDATED NET INCOME: $871 million

NET FINANCIAL SERVICES BUSINESS REALIZED CAPITAL CHANGE: $91 million loss

FINANCIAL SERVICES BUSINESS INVESTMENT CHANGE ON TRADING ACCOUNT ASSETS: $10 million loss

CONSOLIDATED REVENUE: $8.8 billion

- Financial services unit operating income increased to $878 million, from $787 million.

- Individual life sales fell to $86 million, from $89 million.

- Premiums from new group life business increased to $76 million, from $35 million, and premiums from new group disability business increased to $26 million, from $16 million.

- The individual annuities operation is reporting a $1 billion loss for the quarter, compared with $171 million in operating income for the fourth quarter of $171 million.

Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Hartford

4 Q 2008 Results

NET INCOME: $806 million loss

NET REALIZED CAPITAL CHANGE: $816 million loss

REVENUE: $565 million

4 Q 2007 Results

NET INCOME: $595 million

NET REALIZED CAPITAL CHANGE: $429 million loss

REVENUE: $5.7 billion

- Individual annuity net outflows were $1.9 billion.

- Life insurance in force increased to $195 billion, with term life growing 21%, to $63 billion.

- Retirement plan deposits grew 40%, to $2 billion

Aflac Inc., Columbus, Ga.

4 Q 2008 Results

NET INCOME: $197 million

NET REALIZED CAPITAL CHANGE: $262million loss

REVENUE: $4.3 billion

4 Q 2007 Results

NET INCOME: $382 million

NET REALIZED CAPITAL CHANGE: $1 million loss

REVENUE: $4 billion

- About $117 million of the investment losses were the result of the collapse of 3 large Icelandic banks.

- Aflac has large operations in Japan, and they benefited from a 14% increase in the strength of the yen relative to the dollar.

- Cancer insurance sales in Japan were up 20%, but sales of products through banks were down 27%, in part because banks were busy calling customers of other insurers to talk to them about the effects of the world economic crisis, Aflac says. “Those service calls took away from the time available to sell our products,” Aflac reports.

Unum Group Corp., Chattanooga, Tenn.

4 Q 2008 Results

NET INCOME: $42 million

NET REALIZED CAPITAL CHANGE: $258 million loss

REVENUE: $2.3 billion

4 Q 2007 Results

NET INCOME: $160 million

NET REALIZED CAPITAL CHANGE: $26 million loss

REVENUE: $2.6 billion

- The Unum US unit is reporting $183 million in operating income for the quarter on $1.2 billion in revenue, compared with $161 million in operating income on $1.2 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2007.

- The U.S. group disability line is reporting $60 million in operating income on $569 million in premium revenue, compared with $43 million in operating income on $589 million in premium revenue for the fourth quarter of 2007. The ratio of benefits to premiums fell to 89%, from 92%., in spite of the state of the economy. “Continued improvement in the ratio resulted from a higher rate of claim recoveries in group long-term disability and favorable claims experience in group short-term disability,” Unum says.

- Increasing competition and softening economic conditions hurt premium revenue.

- Sales of fully insured group long-term disability products increased 2.8%, to $77 million, and sales of fully insured group short-term disability products increased 25%, to $31 million.

- Premium revenue for supplemental and voluntary lines at Unum US increased 7.7%, to $380 million. Premium revenue at the Colonial Life worksite unit increased to $249 million, from $232 million.

- “Long term care sales decreased 19% compared with the year ago quarter due to the company’s strategy to de-emphasize sales of individual long term care policies and due to lower sales in the group long term care line during the quarter” Unum says.

Assurant Inc., New York

4 Q 2008 Results

NET INCOME: $182 million

NET REALIZED CAPITAL CHANGE: $52 million loss

REVENUE: $2.2 billion

4 Q 2007 Results

NET INCOME: $121 million

NET REALIZED CAPITAL CHANGE: $52 million loss

REVENUE: $2.2 billion

- Net earned premiums at Assurant Health fell to $481 million, down 5% from the total for the fourth quarter of 2007. Small group medical premiums were down 15%.

- Net earned premiums at Assurant Employee Benefits fell to $281 million, down 4%, because

Torchmark Corp., McKinney, Texas

4 Q 2008 Results

NET INCOME: $137 million

NET REALIZED CAPITAL CHANGE: $2.4 million gain

REVENUE: $841 million

4 Q 2007 Results

NET INCOME: $132 million

NET REALIZED CAPITAL CHANGE: $5.9 million loss

REVENUE: $841 million

Humana Inc., Louisville, Ky.

4 Q 2008 Results

NET INCOME: $174 million

REVENUE: $7.5 billion

MEDICAL MEMBERS: 12 million

4 Q 2007 Results

NET INCOME: $243 million

REVENUE: $6.3 billion

MEDICAL MEMBERS: 11 million

- Small group enrollment increased 1%, and enrollment in HumanaOne individual and family plans increased 32%.

- Humana notes that the shift to high-deductible health plans is affecting claim patterns. “High-deductible health plan utilization is heavily weighted to the fourth quarter as annual plan deductibles for some members are generally exhausted by that time,” the company says.

CIGNA Corp., Philadelphia

4 Q 2008 Results

NET INCOME: $209 million loss

NET REALIZED CAPITAL CHANGE: $142million loss

REVENUE: $4.8 billion

MEDICAL MEMBERS: 12 million

4 Q 2007 Results

NET INCOME: $263 million

NET REALIZED CAPITAL CHANGE: $22 million loss

REVENUE: $4.6 billion

MEDICAL MEMBERS: 12 million

- Net results include $405 million in losses associated with guarantees on variable annuities. The CIGNA VA operation has been in run-off mode since 2000.

- The company cut management incentive compensation by $35 million.