Genworth sells life insurance, long-term care insurance, and mortgage insurance. It also provides retirement benefits and asset management services. The company posted decent fourth-quarter and yearly results. For the quarter, sales increased 7% and net income was up 21%, and for the year, sales were up 5% and net income was up 11%.
The company posted an 11.3% return on equity (ROE) for the quarter. During the conference call, management targeted a 12% ROE for 2008, and hoped to get this up to 13%-14% by 2010 or 2011. The company also bought back 10.1 million shares at an average price of $32.11 per share, about $3 less than the going rate.
In the protection segment, sales increased nearly 50% to $901 million for the quarter. Much of the increase was due to an acquisition of policies in the payment protection business. Universal life insurance sales were also strong, which offset a decline in term life insurance sales.
In the retirement income and investments segment, operating income was roughly flat at $66 million and sales jumped to $3.1 billion from $1.9 billion. Much of the sales growth was from the acquisition of investment management and consulting firm AssetMark, and last year's segment income included a $20 million one-time item. Spread-based business continued to be hurt by the flat yield curve.
The mortgage insurance was a primary driver of Genworth's growth. Sales increased to $169 million for the quarter versus $119 million last year, and net income was helped by a $20 million benefit related to favorable updated estimates.
In 2007, Genworth is looking for operating income of $3.13 to $3.25 per share, with 8%-12% growth from the retirement and protection segments. The company also looks for international segment income growth of 13%-17% and domestic mortgage insurance income of 5%-8%. The mortgage insurance business has largely been insulated from credit problems because it operates mainly in the prime credit space.
As an independent company, Genworth has proven to be more focused and better able to make acquisitions and divestitures and mold its capital structure as it sees fit -- and the stock price has already started to show the fruits of these initiatives.
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Fool contributor Emil Lee is an analyst and a disciple of value investing. He doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned above. Emil appreciates comments, concerns, and complaints. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.