MetLife Inc., the nation's largest life insurer, said Wednesday that its first-quarter profit rose 3 percent, helped by the acquisition of AIG's Alico unit and a jump in investment income.
The period was the first full quarter that MetLife controlled Alico, the international life insurance company it bought Nov. 1 from bailed-out rival American International Group Inc. Alico, which operates in more than 50 countries, helped more than double MetLife's international sales.
Strong life, accident and health insurance sales in Japan also boosted premiums and fees. MetLife said it expects to report claims related to the March 11 earthquake and subsequent tsunami of between $45 million and $65 million in the second quarter.
For the three months ended March 31, MetLife reported net income after paying preferred dividends of $830 million, or 78 cents per share, up from $805 million, or 97 cents per share, a year ago. Per-share results fell due to a 29 percent jump in the number of MetLife's outstanding shares.
Excluding certain losses on investments, interest rate and currency hedges and other items, MetLife would have reported income of $1.33 per share. That's well above the $1.04 per share that it posted last year, and tops the $1.26 per share expected by analysts polled by FactSet.
Revenue rose 21 percent to $15.91 billion from $13.1 billion in the 2010 quarter, helped by increased premiums, higher fees and a 23 percent jump in net investment income to $5.32 billion. MetLife said annuity sales rose 34 percent over the 2010 first quarter, to $6.1 billion. Most of that _ $5.7 billion _ came from sales in the U.S.
MetLife said it saw growth in its institutional business in Mexico, group life and dental businesses in Brazil and in accident & health insurance in both Chile and Argentina.
The results also beat analysts' $15.49 billion forecast.
MetLife shares closed Wednesday's regular session down 28 cents at $46.15 and were unchanged in aftermarket trading.