* First-qtr operating earnings $2.40/shr vs est $2.26
* Retirement services income jumps 60 percent (Adds details, analysts’ estimates, share movement)
May 7 (Reuters) - Prudential Financial Inc, the second-largest U.S. life insurer, reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit, driven by strong demand for its retirement services.
The adjusted operating income at the company’s retirement services business jumped 60 percent to $364 million.
Prudential’s investment management business, which includes retirement services, posted a 23 percent increase in adjusted operating income to $945 million.
Income at the international insurance unit fell 5 percent to $837 million.
Prudential’s international business made up nearly half of its 2013 adjusted operating profit at its financial services businesses, which is also its biggest unit. Japan accounts for a third of the company’s international premiums.
Insurers, who use derivatives to hedge against fluctuations in interest rates, are being squeezed as the U.S. Federal Reserve’s monthly bond buying program has kept interest rates low.
MetLife Inc, the largest U.S. life insurer, reported a 36 percent rise in net income in April, helped by a derivative gain linked to credit spreads, but operating earnings fell short of market expectations as claims increased.
Prudential’s operating earnings on an adjusted basis were $2.40 per share. Analysts on average had expected earnings of $2.26 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The net profit in the financial services businesses attributable to the company was $1.22 billion, or $2.59 per share, for the quarter ended March 31, compared to a loss of $735 million, or $1.58 per share, a year earlier.
Prudential shares were up marginally after the bell. They closed at $80.90 on the New Stock Exchange on Wednesday. (Reporting by Neha Dimri in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)