WATERLOO, ON, Feb. 13, 2013 /CNW/ - Amid a challenging economic environment, Equitable Life of Canada® delivered solid results in 2012, achieving all-time highs for earnings and growth. Despite low interest rates and volatile equity markets, the Company realized record earnings of $44.7 million, far surpassing the previous high of $32.0 million in 2010. As a result, return on policyholders' equity increased considerably to 13.5% in 2012. This historic result was due, in particular, to solid earnings by both the Individual and Group lines of business. A number of factors contributed to this strong performance in 2012. Diligent expense management, positive Group claims ratios and favourable performance of equity markets in the latter half of the year helped to offset the low interest rate environment and lower-than-expected sales in the Individual and Savings & Retirement lines of business. Equitable Life remains strong and stable with a Minimum Continuing Capital and Surplus Requirements (MCCSR) ratio of 195%, up from 190% in 2011 and well above the minimum regulatory requirement set out by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Canada (OSFI). As well, the Company's participating policyholders' equity, one of the key measures of a mutual life insurer's financial stability, increased to $352.1 million from $307.4 million at the end of 2011. Equitable Life also had a strong year for growth in 2012. Premiums and deposits reached $606.1 million and the Company's assets under administration grew to $2.93 billion - both all-time highs. On the sales front, it was a breakout year for the Group line of business, achieving record sales of $53.3 million, eclipsing its 2011 sales by 83.8%. Individual sales were down 7.4% to $38.8 million in 2012, as persistently low interest rates led to unprecedented product and pricing changes in the industry. Similarly, Savings & Retirement sales fell 4.6% to $219.6 million as the current economic environment led to weak segregated funds sales. Equitable Life is known for its top-quality service, and the Company built on that reputation in 2012. The Group line of business achieved top rankings in a majority of service categories for a survey of Canadian group policyholders conducted by LIMRA, a worldwide association of insurance and financial services companies. As well, the Individual line of business was again ranked as one of the top companies for new business processing in a survey conducted by one of Canada's largest Managing General Agencies. At the same time, Equitable Life's investment portfolio performed extremely well in 2012 and delivered consistent returns in a volatile environment. Our conservative approach continues to provide ongoing stability and growth.