As you might imagine given the large move and the time of year, Brighthouse reported its fourth-quarter and full-year 2019 results after the market's close on Monday, and that's what is fueling the move.
Brighthouse surpassed expectations on both the top and bottom lines. Revenue in the quarter grew more than 4% year over year, beating estimates by $110 million. The company's adjusted earnings were similarly stronger than expected and marked 15% year-over-year growth.
The underlying performance numbers look quite strong. Annuity sales (Brighthouse's main business) for the full year were up by 23% over Brighthouse's 2018 total. Life insurance earnings, although a smaller part of the business, were 17% higher than in the fourth quarter of 2018. Brighthouse's book value grew from $122.67 at the end of 2018 to $148.64 at year-end 2019.
In addition, Brighthouse authorized the repurchase of another $500 million in stock -- an aggressive buyback for a company whose entire market capitalization is $5.1 billion. The company also reaffirmed its commitment to return $1.5 billion to shareholders from 2018 through 2021, and this new buyback authorization will put it 70% of the way there.
Besides the obvious catalyst of better-than-expected earnings and revenue, Brighthouse shareholders seem to be quite pleased with the company's results. Sales and earnings are growing throughout the business, and the company seems to be fully committed to returning tons of capital to shareholders.