Torchmark Corporation ( TMK)

Q3 2011 Earnings Call

October 27, 2011 12:00 PM ET

Executives

Mark McAndrew – Chairman and CEO

Gary Coleman – EVP and CFO

Analysts

Jimmy Bhullar – JPMorgan

Steven Schwartz – Raymond James

Edward Spehar – Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Jeffrey Schuman – KBW

Colin Devine – Citi

Randy Binner – FBR Capital Markets

Jack Sherck – SunTrust

Robert Glasspiegel – Langen McAlenney

Presentation

Operator

Good day and welcome to Torchmark Corporation’s Third Quarter 2011 Earnings Release Conference Call. Today’s call is being recorded. And for opening remarks and introductions, I would like to turn the call over to Mark McAndrew, Chairman and CEO of Torchmark Corporation. Please go ahead, sir.

Mark McAndrew

Thank you. Good morning, everyone. And for those of you on the East Coast, good afternoon. Joining me this morning is Gary Coleman, our Chief Financial Officer; Larry Hutchison, our General Counsel; and Mike Majors, Vice President of Investor Relations. Some of our comments or answers to your questions may contain forward-looking statements that are provided for general guidance purposes only. Accordingly, please refer to our 2010 10-K and any subsequent Forms 10-Q on file with the SEC.

Net operating income for the third quarter was $129 million, or $1.22 per share; and a per share increase of 13% from a year ago. Net income was $137 million or $1.30 per share, a 38% increase on a per share basis. Excluding FAS 115, our return on equity was 14.3% for the quarter, and our book value per share was $35.20, a 10% increase from a year ago. On a GAAP reported basis with fixed maturities carried at market value, book value grew 16% to $40.92 per share.

In our Life Insurance operations, premium revenue, excluding United Investors, grew 3% to $430 million, and Life underwriting margins increased 5% to $121 million. Life net sales declined 1% in the quarter to $78 million.

At American Income, Life Premiums were up 9% to $154 million, while Life underwriting margins were up 8% to $51 million. Life net sales increased 8% for the quarter to $36 million. The producing agent count at the end of the third quarter was 4,448, which was up 9% from a year ago and up 3% during the quarter.

I believe that American Income is back on track. New agent recruiting was up 11% from a year ago. The number of new agents who achieved our top bonus level for the first time increased 40% from a year ago. And our mid-level sales management ranks have grown 23% from a year ago. American Income, I believe, is now in position to see renewed double-digit growth in sales during the fourth quarter and throughout 2012.

In our Direct Response operation at Globe Life, Life premiums were up 3% to $145 million and Life underwriting margin was also up 3% to $37 million. Net Life sales were down 4% to $31 million. As a result of the changes in our underwriting which we previously discussed and improvements in our package design, we increased our insert media circulation by 22% in the third quarter. The responses received from these inserts increased 43% during the quarter.

There is a significant lag from the time those responses are received until a net sale is recognized. However, we are confident that the increased responses will result in net sales growth in the fourth quarter as well as subsequent quarters. For the fourth quarter, we intend to increase our insert media circulation by 38% over last year. However, due to the uncertainty in the economy, our guidance projects only mid single-digit growth in Direct Response sales for the fourth quarter and full-year 2012.

Life Premiums at Liberty National declined 2% to $72 million and Life underwriting margin was up 5% to $16 million. Net Life sales declined 23% to $9 million. The producing agent count at Liberty National at the end of the third quarter was 1,578, which was down 27% from a year ago. Health sales at Liberty National jumped 47% as a result of some new product offerings in our worksite payroll deduction market.

Effective January 1 of 2012, all sales office and lead expenses at Liberty National will become the responsibility of our branch managers as we continue to move Liberty National to a model similar to American Income. Also as of November 1 of this year, all new agents will be hired on an independent contractor basis versus employee, again following the American Income model. While these changes may have some short-term effect on our sales, we believe they are necessary to preserve our profit margins and to put Liberty National in a position to achieve long-term growth.

We continue to make excellent progress in our efforts to reduce our lapses in our Life Insurance businesses. As I mentioned on the last call during the second quarter, we were able to conserve $2.2 million of annualized premium through our new conservation initiatives. For the third quarter, we were able to conserve $5.8 million of annualized premium. These numbers will continue to grow as we expand our conservation efforts. For 2012, our guidance assumes $30 million to $35 million of annualized premium will be conserved next year.

On the Health side, premium revenue, excluding part D, declined 6% to $177 million while Health underwriting margin was down 8% to $34 million. Health net sales grew 26% to $16 million. In addition to the previously mentioned growth at Liberty National, the United American Independent Agency sales grew 46% to $7.6 million for the quarter, reflecting improvement in the Medicare supplement marketplace in both individual and group. For 2012, we currently project 10% to 15% growth in our net Health sales.

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