- Strong equity markets in Q4 should propel earnings for life insurers (set to start this week), writes Credit Suisse's Tom Gallagher, particularly those with variable annuity and asset management/retirement exposure. MetLife (MET -0.6%), Prudential (PRU -0.5%), and Lincoln National (LNC -1.1%), of course, have been busily trying to reduce exposure to variable annuities after nearly being brought down by them in the financial crisis.
- Deutshce's Yaron Kinar also strikes a bullish note, welcoming the big declines so far this year as a buying opportunity.
- Hartford (HIG -0.6%) is expected to post EPS of $0.90 vs. $0.54 a year earlier, and guidance should "be supportive" of his 2014 estimate of $3.62, says Gallagher, who rates the stock at Outperform.
- Principal Financial (PFG -0.9%) is expected to report $0.93 vs. $0.82 a year ago. Kinar expects a slowdown in buybacks to $23M. He rates the shares a Hold.
- Aflac (AFL +0.5%) is expected to post $1.39, down from $1.48 a year ago. Gallagher's numbers are higher, but he rates the shares only at Neutral.
- Capital returns at Ameriprise (AMP -0.6%) are estimated at $475M in Q4 - $375M in buybacks and $100M dividend - says Gallagher, rating the stock at Neutral.
- Prudential (PRU -0.5%) - rated at Outperform by Gallagher - should report $2.33 vs. $1.69 a year ago.
- MetLife (MET -0.6%) - rated a Buy by Kinar - may disappoint in the headline number thanks to a boosted share count due to the conversion of $1B in equity units. Investors hope to hear some clarity on buybacks, but shouldn't hold their breath until the insurer gets more guidance from the Fed.
- Gallagher rates AIG at Outperform though the insurer continues to suffer an underwriting loss - this creates opportunity, however, for a catalyst going forward from improvement in this trend.
Previewing life insurance Q4 results
Jan 29 2014, 12:59 ET