Profit at CNO Financial Group Inc. was flat in the fourth quarter, but the Carmel-based life insurer still beat analysts’ predictions.
CNO Financial earned $73 million, or 26 cents per diluted share, in the three months ended Dec. 31. In the same quarter a year ago, the company earned $168.2 million—of which $95 million was one-time gain from an accounting adjustment.
Excluding investment gains, CNO’s operations generated $60.1 million, or 22 cents per share, in its most recent quarter. On that basis, Wall Street analysts were expecting CNO to earn 19 cents per share in the quarter, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.
Earnings on existing policies and sales of new policies rose in the fourth quarter at all three of CNO’s subsidiaries—Chicago-based Bankers Life, Carmel-based Washington National and Philadelphia-based Colonial Penn.
“We were especially pleased with our sales momentum,” said CNO Chief Executive Ed Bonach, “and that CNO's key measures of financial strength … all continued to improve.”
CNO’s revenue totaled $1.05 billion in the fourth quarter. That was 2 percent lower than the same quarter last year, driven by lower investment gains and income. Analysts were expecting only $1.01 billion in revenue.
For all of 2011, CNO’s profits grew 34 percent to $382.5 million, compared with the previous year. On a per-share basis, CNO earned $1.31 for the year, compared with 99 cents the year before.
Revenue for the year grew 1 percent to $4.1 billion.
In the past 12 months, CNO’s share price has risen nearly 18 percent. Its shares closed Wednesday, before the company’s earnings announcement, at $7.48 apiece.