Investment losses hurt Conseco earnings

Conseco Inc. expects its improving profits from operations to be overwhelmed by investment losses when it reports its third-quarter results next month.

The Carmel-based insurance company, in a preliminary report, said it expects quarterly operating profit of $53 million to $59 million before investment losses, a rebound from last year’s third quarter loss of $22 million.

But Conseco expects investment losses to range from $80 million to $100 million, mainly reflecting the hammering the company’s bond holdings have taken during the Wall Street financial crisis.

Conseco reported in September that it held more than $100 million in securities of Lehman Brothers, Washington Mutual and American International Group. The first two collapsed and the third was essentially taken over by the federal government.

Conseco’s share price has plunged since then, losing 75 percent of its value. The shares closed Thursday at $1.88 apiece.

Conseco will release its final third-quarter results on Nov. 5 after the markets close.

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