What happened

Shares of Prudential (NYSE:PRU) outpaced a booming market in August. The stock rose 10% versus the S&P 500's 7% increase, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

That rally erased just a small part of recent losses for the insurance giant, though. Shares remain lower by over 25% so far in 2020.

A customer signs paperwork at a bank.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Investors liked some of what they heard in Prudential's early August earnings report. The company posted an overall loss for the period as several of its core business lines, including its investment management and life insurance segments, struggled under the weight of increased stock market volatility and plunging long-term interest rates.

Despite those challenges, CEO Charles Lowrey and his team highlighted encouraging progress in moving the business toward products that aren't as sensitive to interest rate changes. Executives said in a conference call that Prudential managed to raise many of its prices to reflect the new market dynamics, too.

Now what

Prudential still expects significant financial stresses from the coronavirus pandemic for the second half of 2020, including life insurance payouts for victims of the virus. That factor, plus the likelihood of rising overall costs, has management focused on looking for savings across the business. That's why investors can expect to hear much more about Prudential's cost cuts and pricing changes over the next few quarters.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.