Unum Group (NYSE:UNM) Q4 2014 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript
Feb 04, 2015 • 10:00 am ET
Good day, everyone, and welcome to the Unum Group Fourth Quarter 2014, Earnings Results Conference Call. Today's conference is being recorded. For opening remarks and introductions, I will turn the conference over to the Senior Vice President of Investor Relations, Mr. Tom White. Please go ahead, sir.
Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the fourth quarter 2014, earnings conference call for Unum. (forward-looking statements)
of any non-GAAP financial measures included in today's presentation can be found in our statistical supplement on our website, also in the Investor section.
So participating in this morning's conference call are Tom Watjen, President and CEO; and Rick McKenney, Executive Vice President and CFO; as well as the CEOs of our business segments, Mike Simonds for Unum US, Peter O'Donnell for Unum UK, Tim Arnold for Colonial Life, and Jack McGarry for the Closed Block.
And now, I will turn the call over to Tom Watjen. Tom?
Thanks, Tom, and good morning everybody. The fourth quarter was a good one for the company, with operating earnings per share, excluding the special items outlined in our release, of $0.90 per share, an increase of 5.9% over last year. This brought our fully operating earnings per share to $3.55, a growth rate of 6.9%, in line with 5% to 10% outlook for growth we provided coming into 2014.
These results largely reflect the positive operating trends we have been highlighting throughout the year; that is strong sales momentum, accelerating premium growth in our core businesses, and stable risk experience. This quarter we also took the appropriate actions necessary to deal with the impact of low interest rates on our businesses, particularly long term care, and we'll cover that in more detail in a moment.
But for now let me highlight a few points before turning things over to Rick for his more detailed remarks. First, we again saw excellent sales results across all of our core businesses this quarter, continuing a trend we have been building throughout 2014. Unum U.S sales increased by 25% for the quarter and 21% for the full year, with strong results across all product areas and all sectors of the markets we serve. Likewise the Colonial Life, sales this quarter were also strong, increasing 15.7% for the quarter and 11.6% for the full year, again with solid performance across all market segments. And finally, Unum UK sales continued to rebound this quarter, increasing 27.8% for the quarter in local currency.
These solid results across all three of our businesses reflects the strength of our competitive position in our markets and today's generally more favorable conditions. Second, these strong sales trends over the past few quarters, combined with improved persistency in most of our business lines and our ongoing focus on managing renewals in our in-force block, has resulted in accelerated premium growth.
For all of our core business segments combined, premium income grew by 5.7%, the strongest we've seen in several years and each business contributed. Unum US premiums grew 5.8%, Colonial Life