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Rating:Three Things to Know from The Hartford's Earnings Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Three Things to Know from The Hartford's Earnings

Reported by Tommy Fernandez

Focus does help.

The Hartford [profile] demonstrated that during yesterday's earnings release and conference call outlining the earlier benefits its new, leaner and meaner operation.

This was, of course, a year during which the former insurance and financial services goliath shed a number of businesses, including its 1.5 million participant 401k arm in September 2012, to focus entirely on property and casualty, group benefits and mutual funds. It was also a year during which the company suffered through ferocious losses due to Hurricane Sandy.

First, the basics. The Hartford reported a net loss of $46 million, or 13-cents per diluted share, for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2012 (fourth quarter 2012) compared with net income of $118 million, or 23-cents per diluted share in the fourth quarter of 2011.

However, if you look at SeekingAlpha's transcript of the earnings call as well as the company release, you'll see that Hartford's efforts to focus on these three business lines is starting to pay off.

The three big takeaways on how this focus is helping the mutual fund business are:

POINT #1: The Renewed Focus Will Help With Sales
Liam McGee, chairman, chief executive and president of The Hartford, had this to say:
Fourth quarter retail Mutual Fund sales were good, rising 34% from prior year. Net outflows, while still negative, improved significantly versus prior year as redemptions slowed. Overall, the team is making progress on its distribution and product expansion goals, which are key tactics for generating profitable growth in this segment.

POINT #2: The Renewed Focus Has Helped With Investment Performance
McGee described fund performance in this way:
Fund performance also improved substantially in 2012, with 80% of our funds ranked in the top half of their Morningstar peers. In particular, theCapital Appreciation Fund went from bottom quartile performance in 2011 to top quartile in 2012, outperforming the S&P 500 by about 400 basis points. These metrics are very important to retail broker sales, and we are optimistic that this will help to improve 2013 net flows compared with the last 2 years.

POINT #3: The Renewed Focus Continues to Help Clean Up the Balance Sheets
One of the greatest dangers The Hartford had faced was lingering liabilities tied to its annuity business. McGee had this to say on the subject:
We are determined to reduce the size and risks of the legacy annuity liabilities. As you know, last year, we put the annuity business into runoff and named Beth Bombara to lead that effort. She and the team have been evaluating a number of contract holder initiatives and other actions to reduce the risk embedded in these liabilities with the ultimate goal of being to isolate or separate them from The Hartford.
Chief financial officer and executive vice president Christopher John Swift had said that moving the mutual fund operations into The Hartford's life holding company would give the company access to cash-based earnings of roughly $75 million.

For more information, turn to SeekingAlpha's transcript of the earnings call as well as the company release

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