Income falls at Unum, but shares' value rises

Income falls at Unum, but shares' value rises

May 4th, 2011 by Ellis Smith in Business Around the Region

Unum posted operating income of $215.7 million, or 69 cents per share for the first quarter of 2011, within the lower range of analysts' predictions.

Though overall income fell from first-quarter 2010 levels of $223.5 million, earnings per share actually rose because of the company's $1 billion share buyback program.

During the quarter, the company purchased $224 million of stock, or about 8.6 million shares, according to Tom Watjen, president and CEO of Unum.

Unum said in an earnings report that it anticipates growth in operating income for the quarter to be in the range of 6 percent to 12 percent per share, which includes the effect of additional stock buybacks.

"Our first quarter results were generally in line with our expectations and represent a solid start to 2011," Watjen said. "While the current environment still remains challenging, our disciplined approach to the business is serving us well, enabling us to continue to generate excess capital which gives us significant financial flexibility."

Earnings were dragged down by a 20 percent decline in operating income at Unum's United Kingdom division because of "aggressive pricing actions," Watjen said.

Colonial Life also fell slightly, but income at Unum U.S. rose 5 percent to $209.1 million after sales growth in several segments.

Unum U.S. also reported a 14.7 percent increase in its supplemental and voluntary line of business, which grew to $82.8 million, compared to $72.2 million in the first quarter of 2010.