Profit, sales gain elude Conseco in fourth quarter

Conseco Inc. this morning reported a $3.7 million loss and a 3 percent decline in sales in the fourth quarter.

The loss contrasted with a $67.6 million profit and about $89.8 million in sales a year earlier.

The Carmel-based insurer warned in late February that profits might be wiped out by having to spend heavily to shore up its long-term care and core insurance businesses. The long-term-care block of policies, which Conseco services but no longer sells, have seen a much higher frequency of claims in recent quarters, leading to lower profits. As a result, the company delayed its earnings announcement one week.

For the year, profit of $58.5 million was down 80 percent. Sales rose 6 percent, to $353.7 million.

“I’m disappointed with our poor overall financial results,” CEO Jim Prieur said in a statement. “But we are taking the necessary steps to fundamentally change Conseco for the better.”

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