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Torchmark Posts Strong Q3 Earnings

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Torchmark Corp. (TMK - Free Report) reported third quarter 2013 net operating income of $1.43 per share which was up 10.9% year over year.
Total insurance premium at Torchmark increased 7% year over year to $757.2 million led by higher premium from the Life and Health Insurance partly offset by lower premium from Medicare Part D operations.
Net investment income increased 4% year over year to $182.8 million. 
Excess investment income, a measure of the segment’s profitability, was down 2% to $53.6 million.
Torchmark reported underwriting income of $151.8 million which was up 10.0% year over year. The increase came on the back of higher margins in all the three lines – Life, Health as well as Medicare Part D operations.
Torchmark reported administrative expenses of $45.0 million, up 11% year over year. The increase was due to expenses from the acquisition of Family Heritage. 
Segment Update
At Life Insurance operations, premium revenue increased 4% year over year to $470.9 million, attributable to higher premiums written by distribution channels – American Income Agency (up 8%) and Direct Response (up 4%), partially offset by a 2% decline in premiums written by Liberty National Life Agency. Life underwriting income increased 7.0% to $139.0 million. Net sales of life insurance went down by 4%. 
Health Insurance premium revenue (excluding Medicare Part D ) increased 23% year over year to $209.2 million while underwriting income increased 19% year over year to $47.0 million. The addition of Family Heritage led to 54% increase in health net sales.
Premium revenue from the Medicare Part D business decreased 6% year over year to $77.0 million. Underwriting income increased 25% year over year to $9.1 million. 
Share Repurchase Update
During the quarter Torchmark repurchased 1.2 million shares at a total cost of $85.1 million.
Financial Update
Shareholders’ equity as of Sep 30, 2013 increased 5.0% year over year to $3.5 billion.
Torchmark reported book value per share of  $37.60 which was up 9.3% year over year.
For the reported quarter Return on equity was 15.6%, unchanged year over year. 
Earnings Guidance
Management expects 2013 earnings in the range of $5.68 to $5.72 per share and $6.00 to $6.40 for the year ending Dec 31, 2014.
Torchmark carries Zacks Rank # 3 (Hold).
Other stocks
Among other players StanCorp Financial Group Inc. with Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) reported third quarter earnings ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimates, whereas Lincoln National Corp. (LNC - Free Report) and  Sun Life Financial Inc. (SLF - Free Report) both with Zacks Rank # 2 (Buy) are expected to release third quarter earnings on Oct 30 and Nov 7, respectively.

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