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Conseco shrinks loss, but disappoints analysts

May 7, 2008
Conseco Inc.'s loss narrowed in its first quarter, but the company still missed the expectations of Wall Street analysts.

The Carmel-based insurer reported a loss of $5.8 million for the three months ended March 31, compared with a $10 million setback in the same quarter a year ago.

Excluding investment losses, Conseco's insurance companies posted profit in the latest quarter of $20.7 million, up 57 percent from $13.2 million a year ago.

Conseco recorded $26.5 million in investment losses in its first quarter, nearly twice the level of losses experienced in the first quarter of 2007. Company officials said financial markets have been dealing most insurance companies big losses recently.

Excluding investment losses, Conseco earned 11 cents per share, up from 2 cents a year ago.

Wall Street analysts had expected earnings of 25 cents per share, according to a survey by Thomson Financial.

Conseco CEO Jim Prieur said the company posted another stable quarter with long-term care policies it no longer sells, a part of its business that plagued Conseco in 2007. That business lost $1.3 million in the quarter, with $5 million coming from amortization of intangible assets.

Profit at Conseco's most significant subsidiary, Bankers Life & Casualty Co., declined in the quarter as its long-term care policies experienced higher claims expenses. Overall sales at Bankers rose 11 percent compared with the same quarter last year. Conseco subsidiary Colonial Penn posted a sales gain of 22 percent.

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