MetLife ( MET) said fourth-quarter earnings were up 25% from year-ago levels, thanks to strong growth in premiums and annuity deposits.

The life insurance company had net income of $701 million, or 92 cents a share, compared with $561 million, or 78 cents a share, a year earlier. The results include an after-tax investment gain and a charge related to an accounting change.

Excluding those items, operating earnings were $565 million, or 74 cents a share, compared with $338 million, or 47 cents, a year earlier. On that basis, earnings were in line with estimates, according to First Call.

MetLife said fourth-quarter premiums and fees rose 10% to $6.4 billion from the year-ago period, while annuity deposits were up 21% to $2.8 billion from the same period a year earlier.

"We're pleased with our performance and continue to actively manage all aspects of our business for the long term," said CEO Robert Benmosche in a statement.

"While the credit markets have continued to improve, we're rapidly growing assets under management, as well as premiums and fees," he added. "We are also appropriately managing our crediting rates to support our spreads while providing customers a competitive return."

Shares of MetLife finished the regular session ahead 62 cents, or 1.8%, at $35.50

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