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Thursday, Nov. 27, 2008

Major life insurers' core profits tumble in first half

Staff writer

Six major life insurers saw their core business profits fall in the six months to September amid the ongoing global turmoil, according to earnings reports released Wednesday.

Some reported lower profits as premium revenues and asset management profits shrank.

The recent fall in stock prices also slashed the insurers' unrealized profits for the shares they hold.

"The global financial crisis has been gradually affecting real economies," said Koichiro Watanabe, senior managing executive officer at Dai-ichi Mutual Life Insurance Co.

Assuming the economic recovery may not come until 2010, the latest set of results could be the worst in years, Watanabe said. "We now have to carefully manage risks," he added.

Nippon Life Insurance Co. posted a core profit of ¥282.5 billion in the April-September period, down 11.8 percent from the same period last year. Dai-ichi Mutual recorded ¥194.3 billion as its core profit, 18.7 percent lower than a year ago. The core profit of Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co. fell more than 13 percent to ¥185.9 billion.

Sumitomo Life Insurance Co. saw its core profit fall 25.1 percent to ¥110.1 billion, while Asahi Mutual Life Insurance Co. saw its profit drop more than 24 percent to ¥19.3 billion. Mitsui Life Insurance Co.'s core profit plunged 83 percent to ¥7.1 billion. Mitsui said its core profit fell as premium revenue and asset management profits fell.

Unrealized profits at Nippon Life shrank 18.5 percent to ¥3.59 trillion for the first half. Its solvency margin ratio was 1,127.3 percent.

"This time, an unprecedented financial crisis is coming," said Yoshinobu Tsutsui, managing director at Nippon Life. "However, we will be able to overcome this with a strong financial base."

With plunging domestic and overseas share prices, Mitsui posted a latent loss of ¥55.1 billion. Its solvency margin ratio — a key indicator gauging insurers' ability to pay policyholders — also fell 58.2 points to 637.9 percent.

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The Japan Times

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