MetLife Private-Equity Returns Drive Quarterly Profit Higher

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MetLife Inc. said a surge in private-investment returns fueled first-quarter profit that beat analysts’ expectations and helped counter the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • The biggest U.S. life insurer reported adjusted earnings of $2.20 a share, up from $1.58 a year earlier and higher than the $1.50 median estimate of 14 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Key Insights

  • “We believe the worst impact of the pandemic on our business performance is behind us, and we are well-positioned to create additional value for our stakeholders in the future,” Chief Executive Officer Michel Khalaf said Wednesday in a statement.
  • Results excluded earnings from the property and casualty business that MetLife agreed to sell to Zurich Insurance Group AG last year for $3.94 billion.
  • Variable investment income remained a key driver in the quarter, fueled once again by private-equity returns. That drove adjusted net investment income up 23% from last year to $5.3 billion.
  • “Elevated Covid-19 mortality” weighed on underwriting, the New York-based insurer said.
  • On an earnings call Thursday, Khalaf discussed the firm’s strategy on mergers and acquisitions. “We try to achieve a healthy balance between returning cash to our shareholders and investing in attractive future growth through M&A,” the CEO said.

Market Reaction

  • Shares rose 0.1% to $65.48 at 11:05 a.m. in New York. They’re up almost 40% this year after declining 7.9% in 2020.

Get More

  • MetLife’s statement is here.

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