MetLife Jumps the Earnings Gun, Posts Loss

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- MetLife ( MET) said it swung to a first-quarter net loss after mistakenly issuing its report nearly two weeks prior to the planned release date, the company said in a statement Friday.

The company reported a first-quarter loss of $64 million, or 9 cents a share, compared with net earnings of $877 million, or 66 cents a share, a year earlier. Net earnings for the quarter were hurt by a $1.978 billion loss on derivatives, which MetLife uses to hedge its various life insurance and interest exposures.

Operating earnings -- which exclude some investment results and are often used as a more common measure for insurance profitability -- were $1.493 billion, or $1.37 a share.

Analysts expected operating earnings of $1.25 a share, according to those polled by Thomson Reuters.

MetLife was scheduled to release its earnings on May 2, but the company said it mistakenly included first-quarter results as part of a Securities and Exchange Commission document filed on Thursday, which was later released on its Web site.

"MetLife learned yesterday that the data in the version of the Historical Results Financial Supplement posted on the company's Web site could be accessed in ways to make visible the preliminary financial results for the first quarter of 2012 which were otherwise embedded in the document but not visible," the company said in a statement. "Therefore, MetLife has today furnished to the SEC and posted to its Web site a new version of the supplement with the preliminary financial results for the first quarter of 2012 fully visible."

A spokesman for MetLife declined to comment further on the earnings release timing.

In March, MetLife came up short on Federal Reserve stress tests in March and had its dividend and $2 billion stock repurchase rejected.

"We are deeply disappointed with the Federal Reserve's announcement. We do not believe that the bank-centric methodologies used under the CCAR are appropriate for insurance companies, which operate under a different business model than banks," said CEO Steven Kandarian in a statement at the time.