MetLife projects 2011 operating earnings to jump 32%

Insurer MetLife (MET), which also originates mortgages, said Monday it estimates the company’s 2011 operating earnings will fall somewhere between $5.2 billion and $5.3 billion, a 32% surge from $3.9 billion in 2010. In addition, MetLife expects its operating earnings for 2012 to fall between $5.1 billion and $5.6 billion. Next year, MetLife noted it plans to increase its premiums, fees and other revenue by 5% over 2011 levels. MetLife also has a presence in the mortgage space. In 2010, MetLife Home Loans ranked as the 11th largest mortgage servicer in the U.S., with its servicing business valued at $115.9 billion in the fourth quarter. The company also ranked 13th on the list of mortgage originators, holding 1.4% of the market and originating roughly $22 billion in mortgages last year. The insurer, which runs its own agricultural investment unit, announced just last month that it originated $1.6 billion in agricultural mortgages this year to support farms, ranches, timberland and agribusiness facilities. However, in October the insurer said it wanted out of the mortgage business entirely. The firm’s recent originations included a $75 million contribution towards a $90 million senior secured loan on Aurora Cooperative out of Aurora, Neb. The loan is secured by grain handling and storage facilities. MetLife also originated an $80 million senior secured, 52.5-year fixed rate loan for FIA Timber Partners – Continental U.S. The loan is secured by timberland in various parts of the United States. Those assets are managed by Forest Investment Associates out of Atlanta. “Our industry faced several challenges during 2011 – a volatile macro-economic environment, several natural disasters and an uncertain regulatory environment,” said MetLife CEO and President Steven Kandarian. “Yet MetLife’s results this year reflect the strong underlying fundamentals of our business, with operating earnings per share and operating return on equity both expected to increase from 2010.” Write to Kerri Panchuk.

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