StanCorp Financial Guides Lower

Premium growth sags.
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Insurance firm

StanCorp Financial Group

(SFG)

, the holding company of Standard Insurance and The Standard Life Insurance of New York, said it is expecting lower earnings for the first quarter.

Its shares fell 16% early Thursday.

The company expects to earn 69 cents a share to 71 cents a share in the quarter compared with 76 cents a share a year ago. Excluding net capital gains and losses, the company expects to earn 72 cents a share to 74 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call are expecting earnings of 96 cents a share.

The company expects the benefit ratio (the ratio of policyholder benefits including interest credited to premiums) for group life and disability of 79.2% for the first quarter, higher than the 77% to 78% expected for this year on an annual basis.

Premium growth was 5.5%, lower than the long-term target range of 10% to 12%, due to what is known as very price competitive renewal and sales environment in the first quarter.

Shares fell $8.94 to $46.91.

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