Bank holding company earnings from annuity sales were about 12% higher in the first quarter than they were in the first quarter of 2008.

Michael White Associates, Radnor, Pa., and the American Banking Insurance Association, Washington, have published that finding in an annuity fee income report.

Bank holding company annuity fee income increased to about $735 million in the first quarter, up from $653 million in the comparable quarter in 2008.

Researchers found that 381, or 41%, of the 940 U.S. bank holding companies included, reported first-quarter annuity sales activities, and 73% of the bank holding companies with more than $10 billion in assets sold annuities. Annuity commissions at the largest bank holding companies totaled more than $697 million, and those companies generated 95% of all BHC annuity commissions reported for the quarter.

The leading BHC annuity fee income producers were Wells Fargo & Company, San Francisco, with $177 million in annuity sales income, up from $28 million in the first quarter of 2008, and Bank of America Corp., Charlotte, N.C., which increased its annuity sales income to $111 million, from $35 million.