During this call we will discuss GAAP and non-GAAP financial measures, a reconciliation between the two is available in yesterday's earnings press release and in the presentation materials which are posted on Symetra's website.
On the call today, you will hear from President and CEO, Tom Marra; and Executive Vice President and CFO, Margaret Meister. Michael Fry, from the Benefits Division and Dan Guilbert, from the Retirement Division, would join in the Q&A discussion.
Now I'll turn it over to Tom.
Thomas M. MarraThank you Jim and good morning everyone, Margaret and I will review the financial results and update our key initiatives. And then, of course we’ll take your questions, so I’ll begin on slide three, where we have a summary of current highlights and challenges. So this is another strong quarter for our Retirement division, with solid interest spreads earned and by both the Deferred Annuities and the Income Annuities segments. This is especially impressive in the current interest rate environment, which continues to apply pressure to our products margins. Sales of fixed deferred annuities were lower in the quarter, but sales of our fixed indexed annuity product continue to pick up the pace, and in fact we posted our fourth consecutive quarter of higher sales – sequential sales, over up by product. Immediately, that trend will probably end here as we expect third quarter FIA sales to be down from the second quarter again due to low interest rates. At 63.5%, our benefits loss ratio for the first half of 2012 remains well within our long term target range of 63% to 65%. The ratio was 65.5% in the second quarter Margaret will have more to say about that in a moment. While clearly the medical stop-loss business is performing in line with our underwriting objectives. Now turning to challenges; first we continue to deal with the interest rate environment, the impact it has on margins and sales. As you know, we’re maintaining our discipline despite this low rate environment and while this may negatively impact sales in the short-term, we believe the finest discipline is the prudent way to run the business.
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