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MetLife Management Discusses Q2 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Emerging market growth, another strategic priority, was very strong in Latin America with earnings up 5% on a reported basis and by 19% on a constant currency basis. Perhaps no area better reflects the disciplined approach we take to the business than our actions to manage interest rate exposure. As you know, we provided extensive disclosure about our interest rate risk in conjunction with the third quarter 2011 earnings call. Interest rates have come down further since then. And we have done additional analysis on the impact to MetLife's earnings. I would like to share those results with you today.

The interest rate scenario we discussed last fall assumed a rate curve with a 10-year Treasury rate held flat at 2% for 5 years. We reran that scenario using a more recent yield curve with a 10-year Treasury at a record low 1.4%. The result was essentially no incremental impact on MetLife's earning per share for 2012 and 2013 and only roughly $0.05 per share in 2014.

We also examined the impact of the low interest rate environment on MetLife's return on equity. At our Investor Day in May, we said we expected to have an ROE of 12% to 14% by 2016. Even if the 10-year Treasury rate were to remain at 1.4% through the end of 2016, we would expect to hit the lower end of that range, adding roughly 100 basis points of ROE from this year's expected level despite the low interest rate environment. The impact of low interest rates on MetLife's earnings is more benign than many suspect for 2 main reasons. First, we still have room to adjust credit rates on a number of our products in response to changes in interest rates. And second, our hedging program has been highly effective. We made a forward-looking call in 2004 to start buying low rate protection when the 10-year Treasury was trading above 4%. We are reaping the benefits today, and we will continue to do so for a number of years to come.

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