February 13, 2018 / 9:42 PM / a year ago

MetLife adjusted profit slumps on pension-related charge, tax changes

Feb 13 (Reuters) - Metlife Inc's adjusted quarterly profit fell 36 percent due to changes in the U.S. tax law and a reserve charge after failing to pay some workers' pensions.

The insurer, which announced its results after a two-week delay, said adjusted fourth-quarter earnings fell to $678 million, or 64 cents per share, compared with $1.1 billion, or 95 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier.

Analysts were expecting earnings of 64 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

MetLife booked a fourth-quarter $70 million after-tax charge to cover the costs of finding and repaying the potentially tens of thousands of people to whom it failed to pay pensions.

Some life insurers, including MetLife, take over corporate pension plans from companies that want to offload them. The insurers then use a group annuity to make regular payments to the retirees who are entitled to benefits under those pensions.

Changes to the U.S. tax code resulted in a $298 million hit to adjusted earnings, the company said.

Total adjusted revenue rose to $15.4 million from $15.3 million.

In December, MetLife said it had failed to make pension payments to thousands of workers. On Jan. 29, MetLife said its group annuity reserves fell short because of a "material weakness in internal control over financial reporting."

The company said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was looking into the matter and said it was delaying its quarterly results to account for the reserve build. (Reporting by Suzanne Barlyn; Editing by Carmel Crimmins and Leslie Adler)

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