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MetLife moves past worst of pandemic as investment gains drive profit beat - Metro US

MetLife moves past worst of pandemic as investment gains drive profit beat

FILE PHOTO: Statue stands atop Grand Central Station in front of the MetLife building in New York

(Reuters) – MetLife Inc said on Wednesday the worst of the pandemic was behind it after the U.S. insurer beat Wall Street estimates for first-quarter profit, with large investment gains cushioning the hit from coronavirus-related claims.

The New York-based insurer’s net investment income jumped nearly 74% to $5.31 billion on strong returns from private-equity investments.

MetLife saw rising payouts from deaths related to COVID-19, especially in the United States and Latin America. But those were offset by lower costs from annuities and long-term care policies, also linked to coronavirus-related deaths.

Global life insurers are taking steps to curb payouts stemming from the health crisis, including for long-term health consequences that are not yet fully understood.

“We believe the worst impact of the pandemic on our business performance is behind us, and we are well-positioned to create additional value for our stakeholders in the future,” Chief Executive Officer Michel Khalaf said in a statement.

Rival Prudential Financial Inc on Tuesday posted profits that topped analysts’ estimates by nearly 50% for the first quarter, boosted by record results in its asset management and retirement business.

MetLife said it booked $2.24 billion in losses on its hedging strategy, which is designed to offset the hit from declining interest rates. The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield rose nearly 83 basis points to 1.7460% in the first quarter.

The company reported adjusted earnings of $2 billion, or $2.20 per share, for the first quarter ended March 31, from $1.45 billion, or $1.58 per share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of $1.53 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru and Alwyn Scott in New York; Editing by Devika Syamnath)

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