November 1, 2018 / 8:21 PM / 18 days ago

MetLife posts profit on higher net investment income

(Reuters) - Insurer MetLife Inc (MET.N) reported a third-quarter profit on Thursday, compared with a year-ago loss, helped by volume growth, favorable underwriting, expense management and improved investment income.

MetLife shares were up 3.7 percent in after-hours trade on Thursday, after closing the regular session up 1.8 percent at $41.94.

New York-based MetLife is one of the largest U.S. insurers by assets.

Net investment income rose to $4.49 billion from $4.3 billion, a year earlier.

The results follow MetLife’s annual review of actuarial assumptions that it uses to calculate the capital it must hold in order to pay out claims. Many life insurers review those assumptions during the third quarter to see if they are still accurate.

That analysis can prove troublesome for life insurers who, as a result, must set aside funds for claims on older long-term care policies, which cover expenses like assisted living for infirm and elderly customers.

But MetLife, unlike some other insurers who have long-term care businesses, did not have to set aside extra funds, it said.

Net income available to MetLife common shareholders was a profit of $880 million. The company posted a loss of $97 million a year earlier.

On a per-share basis, the company earned 88 cents compared with a loss of 9 cents a year ago.

MetLife’s loss in the same quarter last year was primarily due to the separation of Brighthouse Financial, its former individual life insurance business.

In the most recent quarter, the company reported adjusted earnings of $1.38 per share, compared with $1.04 per share a year ago.

Analysts on average had expected a quarterly profit of $1.27 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. It was not immediately clear if the numbers were comparable.

However, premiums, fees and other revenue fell 4 percent to $12.1 billion due to weakness in Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru and Suzanne Barlyn in New York; Editing by Bernard Orr and Matthew Lewis

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