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Why Genworth Financial Stock Plunged Today

By Jordan Wathen – Feb 5, 2016 at 12:42PM

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Shares were battered after the company missed expectations and announced a plan to move away from its life insurance business.

What: Shares of Genworth Financial (GNW -1.41%) are taking a bath today, plunging by 20% as of 11 a.m. ET.

So what: Genworth reported yet another disappointing quarter after the market closed on Thursday. The insurer reported a net loss of $292 million, or minus $0.59 per diluted share. The company posted an operating loss of $0.17 per share, well below the consensus estimate that it would earn $0.21 per share.

The struggling insurance company will suspend sales of traditional life insurance and fixed annuities so that it can refocus its efforts on its long-term care insurance lines. CEO Tom McInerney said the company is "actively pursuing multiple restructuring actions to separate and isolate our LTC business and narrow our commercial focus, including through the suspension of traditional life and fixed annuity sales."

It's important to note that Genworth's long-term care insurance business was profitable in the fourth quarter, posting operating income of $19 million vs. an operating loss of $506 million in the year-ago period. The loser this quarter was the company's life insurance business, which posted an operating loss of $173 million compared to operating income of $1 million in the fourth quarter of 2014.

The swing in profitability in its life insurance unit was primarily the result of a $194 million after-tax charge to reduce deferred acquisition costs and increase reserves after making changes to its long-term loss assumptions.

Now what: Genworth shares now trade at about 11% of book value excluding other comprehensive income at the end of the fourth quarter. The market clearly suspects that its assumptions underlying its insurance businesses are too rosy, or that it will have to make suboptimal decisions that will further impair the value of the stock (like issuing new equity to pay down leverage).

Jordan Wathen has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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