Shares of Primerica Inc. rose the most since 2010 after announcing a $150 million stock buyback and posting fourth-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates.
Primerica rallied 8.6 percent to end at $44.73 Tuesday in New York. The shares have gained 34 percent in the past year, compared with the 24 percent advance of the Russell 2000 Index.
Fourth-quarter operating profit, which excludes some investment results, was 84 cents a share, the Duluth, Georgia- based insurer said late Monday in a statement. That was five cents higher than the average estimate of seven analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The share repurchase plan is twice the size of the last last buyback program, which was announced in August 2012.
“The earnings were better than our expectations due to strength in the investment and savings-products segment, largely driven by the strong equity markets,” Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP analysts led by Edward Shields wrote in a note to clients. He rates the company hold.
Primerica was previously owned by Citigroup Inc., which began selling its stake in 2010. The insurer sells policies mostly through part-time representatives.
The sales force increased 3.5 percent to 95,566 representatives at the end of 2013 from a year earlier. Experienced brokers at the insurer train new ones for free and earn commissions on their underlings’ sales.
Net income slipped 7.6 percent to $37.2 million in the fourth quarter, on costs tied a legal dispute in Florida.
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