Empire Life

Empire Life

March 18, 2009 11:01 ET

Empire Life Releases 2008 Year-End Financial Results

KINGSTON, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 18, 2009) - The Empire Life Insurance Company (Empire Life) has released its 2008 year-end financial results.

"While the challenges in the market we faced this year were dramatic, Empire Life met this adversity with the same tenacity, dedication, customer-focus and strength we have demonstrated throughout our 85-year history," says Les Herr, who will mark his first year as President and Chief Executive Officer on April 1, 2009.

After five years of achieving double-digit growth in invested assets, the Company's total assets under management declined by 16% in 2008 due to the sharp decline in stock market prices. However, the Company did see positive net sales in its wealth management product line for the year and annuity premium income rose 29% compared to 2007 due to increased sales of both deferred and immediate annuities.

Weak economic conditions affected the Company's employee benefits product line with sales declining by 13% from 2007. "Our primary market segment for group products is small business owners, and without question many of them are feeling the pressure of deteriorating economic conditions, lay-offs and the need to reduce expenses," says Herr, adding that even so, premium income for this product line increased 6% over 2007 due to continued favourable business retention. The Company's individual insurance product line posted increases in premium revenue and net income, however sales were 19% lower mainly due to decreased investment deposits in its universal life product.

Overall, shareholders' net income was down 11.6% from 2007 at $48.4 million. This was primarily due to the sharp decline in capital and surplus earnings caused by falling global stock markets, particularly in the last half of 2008, partly offset by an increase in net income primarily due to the net release of policy liabilities resulting from the annual update of actuarial assumptions. The Company's risk-based capital ratio, as measured by Minimum Continuing Capital and Surplus Requirements (MCCSR), was 201% at the end of the year and was well above minimum requirements.

The Empire Life annual general meeting will be held Wednesday, April 29, 2009 in Toronto, Ontario. The management proxy information circular and annual report are being mailed during the first week of April to shareholders and participating policyholders who request notice of the meeting. The Company's 2008 Annual Report is now available for viewing and download at www.empire.ca.

About Empire Life

A subsidiary of E-L Financial Corporation Limited, and in business since 1923, The Empire Life Insurance Company (Empire Life) provides financial security and wealth management solutions for the changing needs of Canadians. The Company's success comes from a commitment to being approachable and responsive to the needs of its clients and business partners, consistently solid investment performance and faith in its employees as future leaders.

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