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MetLife, Inc. (MET)

  • Mon, Jan. 12, 3:11 PM
    • While rivals at AIG and Prudential have quietly accepted their designation as non-bank SIFIs, MetLife (MET -1.1%) - arguing the label will require the holding of too much capital, putting it a competitive disadvantage and crimping dividends/buybacks - has not. Led by CEO Steven Kandarian - who once headed the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. - Met has until Friday to file a lawsuit challenging the government's assessment.
    • “Steve is not a gunslinger-type person,” says Wlibur Ross, who battled Kandarian when he was a government official. If he sues the U.S., “it will only be because he is totally convinced his position is right and the government is wrong.”
    • Legal experts say winning a lawsuit against a regulator is tough, but not impossible.
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  • Thu, Jan. 8, 9:58 AM
    • MetLife (MET +0.9%) had been the team's Outperform pick in the sector, but it's been downgraded to Neutral.
    • Upgraded to Outperform from Neutral are Lincoln Financial (LNC +2%) and Principal Financial Group (PFG +2.1%), with the team suggesting those two are a little less reliant on higher rates for improved earnings.
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  • Thu, Jan. 8, 9:43 AM
    • "We continue to view AIG (AIG) as the best positioned non-bank SIFI among the Big 3 (MET and PRU are the others) with regard to probability of returning the highest proportion of earnings both now and in the future as federal regulation unfolds," says Credit Suisse, downgrading AIG to Neutral from Outperform, and cutting the price target by $1 to $59.
    • However, says the team, AIG is nearing its maximum sustainable payout ratio, while both MetLife and Prudential have room to go higher. By Credit Suisse's calculations, AIG's capital returns are near 100% of GAAP earnings vs. 35-45% for MET and PRU.
  • Tue, Jan. 6, 4:21 PM
    • MetLife (NYSE:MET) declares $0.35/share quarterly dividend, in line with previous.
    • Forward yield 2.77%
    • Payable March 13; for shareholders of record Feb. 6; ex-div Feb. 4.
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  • Tue, Jan. 6, 3:30 PM
    • It's been a rough start to the year for the group as investors - who had bid up the names at least partly in hope of higher interest rates giving a boost to returns - rethink those assumptions yet again as the 10-year Treasury yield tumbles below 2%.
    • MetLife (MET -2.5%), Prudential (PRU -1.5%), Manulife (MFC -2.2%), Sun Life (SLF -3.2%), Lincoln National (LNC -2.8%), Primerica (PRI -1.5%), Voya Financial (VOYA -2.1%).
  • Dec. 18, 2014, 4:12 PM
    • Not much of a surprise, MetLife (NYSE:MET) is notified by the Financial Stability Oversight Council of its designation as a SIFI. Also no surprise, the company registers its "disappointment" over the move.
    • "As we have said many times, singling out two large life insurance companies [Prudential as well] for SIFI designation will harm competition, lead to higher prices and less choice for consumers, and ultimately could result in less financial protection for middle-class families who need it the most."
    • MetLife has thirty days to seek judicial review of the FSOC decision, and is considering its next move.
    • Source: Press Release
    • Previously: MetLife SIFI case gets stronger as it passes Goldman in assets (Dec. 18, 2014)
    | 1 Comment
  • Dec. 18, 2014, 8:46 AM
    • MetLife's (NYSE:MET) balance sheet expanded this year to more than $900B in assets, passing Goldman Sachs to become the 5th-largest S&P 500 company on that metric. MetLife is also bigger than Prudential Financial and AIG - both of which have already been designated as SIFIs.
    • "There’s probably not a chance that they escape," says Macquarie's Sean Dargan. "I'm working under the assumption that Met is going to be a SIFI.”
    • Size alone doesn't necessarily make a company systemically important, says a former Treasury official, noting assets can be transferred to other firms if they can perform the same functions. Nevertheless, MetLife seems resigned to its fate, and is now getting ready to work with the Fed on designing capital rules aimed at insurance rather than banking.
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  • Dec. 16, 2014, 12:54 PM
    • In a $440M deal, TRW purchased a group annuity contract from MetLife (MET -0.2%), with the insurer taking over pension payments to the retirees and beneficiaries covered by the agreement.
    • The buy-out with TRW is one of a number MetLife has closed of late, and Met says nearly one-third of plan sponsor are considering making similar moves over the next two years.
    • Source: Press Release
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  • Dec. 12, 2014, 7:18 AM
    • "While our approach to capital management remains cautious in light of regulatory uncertainty," says CEO Steve Kandarian, "Our philosophy is that excess capital belongs to MetLifes shareholders."
    • MET has nearly completed the $1B buyback program launched in June, with $967.1M repurchased as of December 1.
    • Source: Press Release
    • Shares -0.2% premarket
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  • Dec. 11, 2014, 7:31 AM
    • The Insurance Capital Standards Clarification Act of 2014 "give(s) the Federal Reserve the flexibility to tailor bank-centric capital rules for the life insurance business," says MetLife (NYSE:MET) CEO Steven Kandarian.
    • Pretty much alone among its industry, MetLife has been beating the drum that regulators would be nuts to create one size fits all capital rules for banks and insurers.
    • Source: Press Release
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  • Dec. 10, 2014, 2:26 PM
    • Esther Lee comes over from AT&T, effective January 12, where she was SVP, brand marketing, advertising, and sponsorships. Prior to joining AT&T in 2009, Lee was CEO for the North American division of Euro RSCG, and prior to that was global chief creative officer for Coca-Cola.
    • Source: Press Release
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  • Dec. 5, 2014, 10:06 AM
  • Nov. 19, 2014, 10:05 AM
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  • Nov. 17, 2014, 8:57 AM
    • More than a year ago, MetLife (NYSE:MET) announced it would merge three life insurance subsidiaries with an offshore reinsurance subsidiary as part of a larger effort improve the risk profile and transparency of the variable annuity business.
    • The merged company - which includes MetLife Insurance of Connecticut, MetLife Investors USA, MetLife Investors Insurance, and Exeter Reinsurance - has been named MetLife Insurance Company U.S.A. and is domiciled in Delaware.
    • Source: Press Release
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  • Nov. 10, 2014, 2:33 PM
    • "The failure of any institution with $1T in assets could do serious damage to the financial system," writes the FT's Lex Team. "MetLife (MET +0.1%) fully deserves its SIFI status."
    • D.C. regulators argue a run on a large insurer, say a mass cash out of life policies, would disrupt the financial system, but MetLife says a mass surrender of policies is not possible due to their nature. Further, many annuity and life policies can be cashed out only by incurring significant penalties.
    • Fair enough, writes Lex, agreeing that insurers should not be regulated like banks, but reminding this does not exempt them from closer regulatory scrutiny. "Regulators should regulate for the next crisis, not the last one."
    • Previously: MetLife to meet regulators to avoid "systemic" tag
  • Nov. 6, 2014, 3:47 PM
    • One week after MetLife (NYSE:MET) said it's wary of the largest pension deals at current prices, Prudential (NYSE:PRU) - on its earnings call today - defended its policy of going after them.
    • Prudential, says COO Stephen Pelletier, can distinguish itself through an ability to handle complex transactions and deal with thousands of retirees. Looking at Prudential's recent taking on of $3.1B in pension liabilities from Motorola, Citi's Erik Bass queried management on why Motorola isn't paying a premium when most firms pay in the area of 5-15% of the liabilities transferred.
    • Pelletier responded that plan sponsors can use different approaches to quantifying liabilities, with discrepancies sometimes arising from the use of different mortality tables. "That's all pretty much irrelevant to us ... We use a consistent and very disciplined methodology with multiple layers of oversight in order to arrive at our customized view from the ground up of the economic risks that we’re taking on in a given transaction.”
    • "We think PRU’s management addressed well and head-on the continued concerns voiced both by investors and a few competitors over the pricing and returns of its pension risk transfer business,” says Sterne Agee's John Nadel. “Although we expect doubts will likely persist.”
    • Prudential is lower by 4.5% after missing earnings estimates last night.
    • Previously: Prudential -2.15% after earnings miss
    | 1 Comment
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Company Description
MetLife Inc is a provider of insurance, annuities & employee benefit programs in United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe & Middle East. It offers life insurance, annuities, property & casualty insurance, and other financial services.
Sector: Financial
Industry: Life Insurance
Country: United States