August 4, 2021

(Reuters) – U.S. insurer MetLife Inc blew past Wall Street estimates for second-quarter profit on Wednesday, as solid investment gains cushioned the hit from coronavirus-related claims.

Metlife reported adjusted earnings of $2.1 billion, or $2.37 per share, for the second quarter ended June 30, from $758 million, or 83 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of $1.62 per share, according to data from Refinitiv IBES.

The New York-based insurer said in May that the worst of the pandemic was behind it, as a rebound in investment income helped global life insurers offset some of the impact from payouts related to the health crisis.

Metlife reported a 29% jump in net investment income to $5.28 billion on strong returns from private-equity investments.

Earlier in the day, Prudential Financial Inc also said the effect of COVID-19 on its group and individual life insurance appears to be lessening in the third quarter.

Adjusted earnings at Metlife’s U.S. business jumped 72%, helping it offset a weak performance in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, where its businesses were hurt by higher COVID-19-related claims.

Adjusted earnings in its U.S. group business took a $75 million hit from claims related to the health crisis, the insurer said.

MetLife reported net derivatives of $421 million during the second quarter.

The insurer holds a book of derivatives to hedge against market volatility. Such gains do not indicate the actual performance of the company, but reflect the effect of accounting rules, an issue that has occurred in some previous quarters.

Metlife also said its board had approved a new $3 billion share buyback plan.

(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru and Alwyn Scott in New York; Editing by Devika Syamnath)