Torchmark Corporation CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Torchmark Corporation (TMK)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

April 25, 2012 11:00 AM ET

Executives

Mark McAndrew - CEO

Gary Coleman - CFO

Larry Hutchison - General Counsel

Analysts

Jimmy Bhullar - JPMorgan

Steven Schwartz - Raymond James

Bob Glasspiegel - Langen McAlenney

Sarah DeWitt - Barclays

Bob Glasspiegel - Langen McAlenney

Ed Spehar - Bank of America/Merrill Lynch

Paul Sarran - Evercore Partners

Steven Schwartz - Raymond James

Mark Hughes - SunTrust

Vincent Lowry - Morningstar

Jeff Schuman - KBW

Sam Hoffman - Nomura

Presentation

Operator

Good day everyone and welcome to the Torchmark Corporation First Quarter 2012 Earnings Release Conference Call. Please note that this call is being recorded and is also being simultaneously webcast.

At this time I will turn the call over to the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Mark McAndrew. Please go ahead, sir.

Mark McAndrew

Thank you. Good morning, everyone. 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 first quarter was $128 million or $1.27 per share, a per share increase of 22% from a year ago. Net income for the quarter was $119 million or $1.17 per share, a 39% increase on a per share basis.

Excluding FAS 115, our return on equity was 15.8% for the quarter and our book value per share was $32.70, a 9% increase from a year ago. On a GAAP reported basis with fixed maturity carried at market value, book value per share grew 24% to $38.19. In our life insurance operations, premium revenue grew 5% to $452 million, and life underwriting margins increased 13% to $126 million. Net life sales increased 9% to $88 million.

At American Income, life premiums were up 10% to $161 million and life underwriting margin was up 16% to $52 million. Net life sales increased 17% for the quarter to $39 million. The producing agent count at the end of the first quarter was 5,104, up 26% from a year ago and up 17% during the quarter.

The first quarter results at American Income far exceeded our expectations. The number of newly hired agents that produced business in the first quarter was up 52% from a year ago. The number of newly hired agents who achieved our top bonus level, which is our best indicator of agent retention, was up 76% in the quarter. Our middle management ranks grew by 12% in the quarter and are up 29% from a year ago. Every key factor indicates that 2012 is a stellar year for American Income.

In our direct response operation at Globe Life, life premiums were up 6% to $161 million and life underwriting margin grew 10% to $38 million. Net life sales were up 9% to $39 million. I am pleased with the results in direct response. While high gas prices and difficult economy continued to impact our response rates, through continuing innovation we've been able to grow our sales and maintain our margins.

I would also remind everyone of the change we made in our direct response underwriting in mid-2011. While improving our margins, it resulted in a 6% reduction in our net sales due to more applications being rejected for health reasons. Life premium at Liberty National declined 2% to $72 million, while life underwriting margin was up 21% to $18 million.

Net life sales declined 22% to $7 million, while net health sales grew 16% to $3 million. The producing agent count at Liberty National ended the quarter at 1,276, down 31% from a year ago and down 5% for the quarter. The underwriting margins at Liberty National had benefitted from the change in DAC accounting due to the significant reductions we have implemented in our non-deferrable acquisition cost over the last couple of years.

I'm also very pleased with the progress being made in turning around our declines in producing agents and sales. In mid-February, the agent count at Liberty National hit its low point of 1,228. Since that time, we have seen consistent growth, and as of Monday, the producing agent count has grown to 1,321, which is up 7.5% in the past two months. I'm very optimistic that this agent growth will continue going forward, which will result in improved sales at Liberty National for the balance of this year.

On the health side, premium revenue excluding Part D declined 6% to $181 million, and health underwriting margin declined 10% to $40 million. Health net sales grew 5% to $15 million. Premium revenue from Medicare Part D grew 50% to $74 million while the underwriting margin increased 54% to $8 million.

Part D sales for the quarter jumped 235% to $25 million. The new low income subsidized enroll leads continue to exceed our prior estimates and we have raised our Part D revenue estimates for 2012 to $319 million versus $197 million for 2011.

Administrative expenses were $41 million for the quarter, which were up 8% from a year ago, but in line with our expectations. Roughly half of this increase was caused by the elimination of the administrative fee which we were receiving on the United Investors business. The balance of the increase was due to increased cost in our Part D administration and conservation program.

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