The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage. The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not represent the views of TheStreet or its management.

NEW YORK (

Trefis

) --

MetLife

(MET) - Get Report

increased its international presence substantially after the acquisition of Alico in 2010. MetLife competes with

AIG

(AIG) - Get Report

,

The Hartford

(HIG) - Get Report

,

Prudential Financial

(PRU) - Get Report

and

New York Life Company

.

MetLife reported a 36% increase in premiums, fees and other revenues from the insurance business outside of the U.S. in the year 2010 mainly due to the addition of about $836 million from Alico's one month operations. MetLife acquired Alico for about $15.5 billion from AIG as a part of its strategy to grow internationally.

The acquisition has enabled MetLife to serve 90 million customers in more than 60 countries and has significantly boosted MetLife's position as a leading insurance company in the U.S, Japan, Latin America, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East.

We have a price estimate of $48.83 on MetLife's stock which is only slightly above the current market price.

Recent Earnings Looked Firm

For the year ended Dec. 31, 2010, MetLife's operating earnings reached $3.9 billion with an increase of about 64% over the previous year. In the U.S., group life insurance premiums rose 2% while individual life insurance premiums declined by 3%. Strong demand for annuities led to a 19% increase in premiums, fees and other revenues from retirement products. Variable annuities are preferred by customers over fixed annuities when they believe that the portfolio associated with the annuity, often an index, will rise in value.

The fact that these are in demand shows investor confidence in the long-term upside value in these annuities. In the property and casualty segment, auto insurance premiums remained almost unchanged from 2009, while home insurance premiums posted 4% growth in 2010 over previous year.

The acquisition of Alico has boosted MetLife's share of international insurance market to 0.19% in 2010 from about 0.15% in 2009. The gain in market share has come from just one month of reported operations of Alico. We estimate that MetLife's share of international insurance market will grow to about 0.3% by 2013 after the successful integration of operations.

MetLife would profit from an increase in operating margin of international insurance business because of the increase in size of operations outside of the U.S. This trend was also visible during 2006-2008 when MetLife's international insurance premiums grew from $3.5 billion to $4.6 billion leading operating margins expanding from 9.4% in 2006 to 16.2% in 2008.

However, the operating margins fell to -10.2% in 2009 due to high investment related losses in the economic downturn but recovered to 13.3% in 2010 as investments yielded positive returns. We estimate that MetLife's operating margins would reach 16% by the year 2013.

See our

full estimates for MetLife.

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This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.