UnumProvident ( UNM) surged after the insurer reported fourth-quarter income of $179.8 million, or 52 cents a share, excluding items, topping Thomson Financial's estimates by 8 cents a share. Last year the Tennessee-based company earned $133.3 million, or 42 cents a share. The stock was rising $2.03, or 10.2%, to $21.96.

First Horizon ( FHN) shares jumped on the retirement of Chief Executive J. Kenneth Glass, which to some suggests that the Memphis-based regional bank may soon sell itself. The current chief operating officer, Jerry Baker, has been appointed the new CEO, and board member Michael Rose will become the new chairman. Shares were gaining $3.69, or 9.2%, to $43.92.

Ameriprise ( AMP) and other life insurers were rising after a Goldman Sachs analyst upgraded the entire sector to neutral from cautious. Ameriprise and Prudential ( PRU) were singled out as those with the strongest 2007 profit-growth potential. Ameriprise shares were climbing 76 cents, or 1.3%, to $58.29. Prudential was up 73 cents to $88.89.

National Financial Partners ( NFP) gained after a Citigroup analyst began coverage on the insurance broker with a buy rating. Shares were up $1.24, or 2.6%, to $49.64.

Everest Re ( RE) slumped after widely missing Street estimates despite swinging to a fourth-quarter profit. The insurer posted operating income of $201.2 million, or $3.07 a share, falling 34 cents short of the consensus. Last year it had an operating loss of $185.8 million, or $3.01 a share. Shares were falling $1.92, or 2%, to $94.

Provident New York Bancorp ( PBNY) slipped after income for the quarter ended Dec. 31 totaled $4.6 million, or 11 cents a share. Analysts were looking for income to flat-line with last year's 12-cent per-share profit. Shares were down 19 cents, or 1.3%, to $14.61.

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