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MetLife Cuts 2008 Guidance

New York insurer sees operating profit coming in below Street targets.
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cut its 2008 profit guidance but sees opportunity for growth.

The New York insurance giant says it expects total operating earnings next year to be somewhere between $5.90 and $6.20 a share. That range is roughly flat with the company's projected operating earnings for 2007 of about $6.07.

Analysts expected MetLife to post earnings of $6.26 a share next year, according to Yahoo Finance.

The company, which is holding its annual investors' conference today, says it will post operating earning per share in a range between $1.40 and $1.45. That range compares with $1.36 a share in the year-ago quarter. Analysts had expected a profit of $1.44 a share.

CEO Bob Henrikson said in a press release: "2007 is going to be another strong earnings year for MetLife."

MetLife also expects to achieve an operating return on equity of 13.0% to 13.6% and spend $2.2 billion in stock buybacks in 2008.

MetLife shares fell 91 cents to $64.68 in pre-market trading Monday.