MetLife posts higher profit in third quarter

MetLife said Wednesday its third-quarter profit more than doubled from the same period last year as it posted gains from derivatives it uses to hedge risks.

The largest life insurer in the U.S. reported profit of $2.1 billion, or $1.81 a share. That exceeded the $1.38 consensus expectation of Wall Street analysts.

A year ago, the company posted profit of $942 million, or 84 cents a share.

The higher profit came as the company said revenue rose to $18.8 billion from $16.3 billion a year ago. Revenues were higher thanks in part to a $478 million pre-tax gain from derivatives.

A year ago, the company reported a loss from its derivatives program. Like other insurers, MetLife uses derivatives to hedge risks, such as fluctuations in interest rates.

Last year, New York-based MetLife consolidated its U.S. retail operation to Charlotte, where it opened a hub in Ballantyne. The hub is expected to employ 1,300 by 2015.

The company’s retail operation reported $823 million in profit in the third quarter, more than double the profit in the same period last year. Premiums, fees and other revenues were up compared with last year’s period, thanks to higher income annuity sales and separate account fee growth, the company said.