We'll start today with prepared comments from John, Rich, and Mark, and then we'll hat out [ph] your questions. Before we begin, in order to help you to understand Prudential Financial, we will make some forward-looking statements in the following presentation. It is possible that actual results may differ materially from the predictions we make today. Additional information regarding factors that could cause such a difference appears in the section titled, Forward-Looking Statements and Non-GAAP Measures, of our earnings press release for the second quarter of 2012, which can be found on our website at www.investor.prudential.com.
In addition, in managing our businesses, we use a non-GAAP measure we call, adjusted operating income, to measure the performance of our Financial Services businesses. Adjusted operating income excludes net investment gains and losses as adjusted and related charges and adjustments, as well as results from divested businesses. Adjusted operating income also excludes recorded changes in asset values that are expected to ultimately accrue to contract holders and recorded changes in contract holder liabilities resulting from changes in related asset values.
Our earnings press release contains information about our definition of adjusted operating income. The comparable GAAP presentation and the reconciliation between the 2 for the quarter are set out in our earnings press release on our website. Additional historical information relating to the company's financial performance is also located on our website.
Now let's get started. Here is John Strangfeld, CEO.John Robert Strangfeld Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us. I'll begin by headlining what Rich and Mark will be describing to you more specifically regarding our second quarter. Our drivers continued strong, and in fact, in some cases, very strong, and our underlying financial performance improved from the first quarter. Rich will take you through the market driven and discrete items included in this quarter's earnings. Stripping these items from each second quarter, our earnings per share amount to $1.67 this year versus $1.64 in the second quarter of 2011. This quarter's results includes the effect of significant improvement in the benefit ratios of our group life business. Confirming, we believe, that last quarter's elevated ratio was an aberration.