All comparisons of third quarter 2012 results in the business discussions that follow are with the third quarter of 2011, unless otherwise noted. All comparisons on a constant currency basis are calculated using the average foreign currency exchange rates for the current period and are applied to the prior period. Reconciliations of segment net income to segment operating earnings are provided in the tables that accompany this release and in the Third Quarter 2012 Financial Supplement, which is available on the Investor Relations section of www.metlife.com.
Total operating earnings for the Americas increased 58% to $1.2 billion, driven by Retail and Group, Voluntary & Worksite Benefits. Third quarter 2011 results were negatively impacted by a reserve increase for potential unreported life insurance claims and higher catastrophes. Third quarter 2012 results benefitted from catastrophes that were $26 million, or $0.02 per share, after tax, lower than the company’s quarterly plan provision and $10 million, or $0.01 per share, after tax, of favorable non-catastrophe claim development related to prior accident years.
Premiums, fees & other revenues for the Americas were down 2% to $8.3 billion, as growth in Group, Voluntary & Worksite Benefits was offset by a decline in Corporate Benefit Funding.
Operating earnings for Retail more than doubled to $492 million due to higher net investment income, an increase in fees, lower catastrophes and expenses, and the above mentioned reserve increase in the prior year period. Premiums, fees & other revenues for Retail were $3.0 billion, down 1% as an increase in fees was more than offset by lower income annuity sales. Variable annuity sales were $4.6 billion, down 46%.
Group, Voluntary & Worksite Benefits
Operating earnings for Group, Voluntary & Worksite Benefits were $283 million, up 85% mostly due to the previously mentioned reserve increase in the prior year period as well as lower catastrophes and favorable non-catastrophe claim experience. Premiums, fees & other revenues for Group, Voluntary & Worksite Benefits were $4.0 billion, up 9% due to favorable sales and persistency across the business, particularly in dental.