Symetra Financial Corporation (SYA) Q2 2012 Earnings Call July 26, 2012 10:00 am ET Executives Jim Pirak – Investor Relations Thomas M. Marra – President and Chief Executive Officer Margaret A. Meister – Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Michael W. Fry – Executive Vice President, Benefits Division Daniel R. Guilbert – Executive Vice President, Retirement Division Analysts Jimmy Bhullar – JPMorgan Chris Giovanni – Goldman Sachs John M. Nadel – Sterne, Agee & Leach, Inc. Steven Schwartz – Raymond James Jeffrey R. Schuman – Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, Inc. Humphrey Lee – UBS Ryan Krueger – Dowling & Partners Presentation Operator
During this call we will discuss GAAP and non-GAAP financial measures, a reconciliation between the two is available in yesterday's earnings press release and in the presentation materials which are posted on Symetra's website.On the call today, you will hear from President and CEO, Tom Marra; and Executive Vice President and CFO, Margaret Meister. Michael Fry, from the Benefits Division and Dan Guilbert, from the Retirement Division, would join in the Q&A discussion. Now I'll turn it over to Tom. Thomas M. Marra Thank you Jim and good morning everyone, Margaret and I will review the financial results and update our key initiatives. And then, of course we’ll take your questions, so I’ll begin on slide three, where we have a summary of current highlights and challenges. So this is another strong quarter for our Retirement division, with solid interest spreads earned and by both the Deferred Annuities and the Income Annuities segments. This is especially impressive in the current interest rate environment, which continues to apply pressure to our products margins. Sales of fixed deferred annuities were lower in the quarter, but sales of our fixed indexed annuity product continue to pick up the pace, and in fact we posted our fourth consecutive quarter of higher sales – sequential sales, over up by product. Immediately, that trend will probably end here as we expect third quarter FIA sales to be down from the second quarter again due to low interest rates. At 63.5%, our benefits loss ratio for the first half of 2012 remains well within our long term target range of 63% to 65%. The ratio was 65.5% in the second quarter Margaret will have more to say about that in a moment. While clearly the medical stop-loss business is performing in line with our underwriting objectives. Now turning to challenges; first we continue to deal with the interest rate environment, the impact it has on margins and sales. As you know, we’re maintaining our discipline despite this low rate environment and while this may negatively impact sales in the short-term, we believe the finest discipline is the prudent way to run the business.
Second, we’re not satisfied with sales levels in individual item. And the near-term outlook remains challenging, you recall that we told you last quarter that we’re lowering commissions on our single premium life product, as a result of interest rates that change went into effect on July 1, and we expect that to be our sales drop off dramatically for the remainder of the year.For now, I’ll take a personal charge of the Life business, I have a lot of experience here and we’ll be working with a very capable team to carefully evaluate ways to historic growth. We still need a more complete product offering and we obviously need to drive sales through our distribution relationships. With regard to our grow and diversify campaign, we’ve done a lot of optimal work across the company to expand our products and capabilities. The retirement division launched our True Variable Annuity products in June and the Benefits division implemented the state-of-the-art Life & DI claims in asset management system. The Life team introduced a Lapse Protection Benefit rider for Classic UL and a new variable COLI product. Now our focus is on driving increased revenues as a result of these initiatives. It’s critical that we were quickly to drive sales of our new products, while we also keep our core business going strong. We build good products and service capabilities, but now it’s time to execute on the sales side. Turning to slide four, we have our consolidated financial results for the second quarter. Net income was $44 million down from $58 million in second quarter 2011 reflecting lower net realized investment gains. Adjusted operating income was $47 million compared with $49 million in second quarter of 2011. Return on equity was 6.6% for the 12 months ended June 30, down from 9.1% for the same period last year, mostly due to growth in total stockholders’ equity, which includes higher unrealized gains in the investment portfolio. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com