Insurer MetLife’s quarterly profit beats on rebound in investment income By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The MetLife building is seen in New York, March 8, 2010. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

(Reuters) -U.S. insurer MetLife Inc (NYSE:) blew past Wall Street estimates for third-quarter profit on Wednesday, as strong investment gains helped cushion a hit from coronavirus-related claims.

The company reported adjusted profit of $2.1 billion, or $2.39 per share compared to $1.6 billion, or $1.73 per share, a year earlier. Analysts on average had expected a profit of $1.74 per share, according to Refinitiv data.

Global life insurers have been benefiting from a rebound in investment income, helping them offset increased payouts related to the health crisis. Total variable investment income more than doubled to $1.41 billion from a year earlier.

“MetLife delivered another very strong quarter. Outstanding variable investment income more than offset elevated COVID claims…” Chief Executive Michel Khalaf said in a statement.

The New York-based insurer, which had earlier said that the worst of the pandemic was behind it, reported an 18% jump in net investment income to $5.57 billion on strong returns from private-equity investments.

Rival Prudential Financial Inc (NYSE:) too had reported solid quarterly adjusted profit, driven by strong performances at the U.S. insurer’s life and annuity units.

Adjusted earnings at Metlife’s U.S. business fell 1%, while Asia clocked a 22% jump, helping offset weakness in Latin America, where its business was hurt by higher COVID-19-related claims.

Adjusted earnings in its U.S. group business took a $290 million hit from pandemic-related claims, a jump from $75 million in the prior quarter, due to a bigger share of COVID-19 deaths under age 65.

It reported net derivative losses of $218 million in the quarter ended Sept. 30. The insurer holds a book of derivatives to hedge against market volatility.

Such gains do not indicate the actual performance of the company, but reflect the effect of accounting rules, an issue that has occurred in some previous quarters too.

Metlife’s shares rose 2.5% in extended trading.

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