The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., approaching its 200th birthday, is a strong company poised to grow even stronger, with 2004 marking record performance across the enterprise, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ramani Ayer told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting.
Ayer pointed to record 2004 net income that topped $2.1 billion, record operating earnings in both its property-casualty and life operations, and record revenues of $22.7 billion that propelled The Hartford this year onto the Fortune 100 list at number 88.
“We’re in a confident position to grow profitably in more competitive insurance markets, and we’re confident The Hartford will play a significant role in providing investment products for the expanding market of baby boomers nearing retirement,” said Ayer, adding that The Hartford enjoys leadership advantages in variable annuities, variable life insurance, business insurance, AARP personal insurance programs and group benefits.
“To stay ahead in 2004, The Hartford invested in technology and speed; sales and service; and new and enhanced products,” said Ayer. “At the same time, we sought customers in new and expanding markets, and focused on profitable growth. We achieved this by fostering innovation, managing risk, creating efficiencies and increasing productivity, and passed these advantages along to all of our stakeholders.
Ayer cited some key measures of The Hartford’s performance.
* Total return on the company’s stock was 19.5 percent in 2004, beating both the S&P 500 and its insurance composite index;
* Book value per share, excluding accumulated other comprehensive income, rose 19 percent from 2003 to $43.55;
* Record net income topped $2.1 billion;
* Revenues were up 21 percent over 2003; and
* Return on equity exceeded 16 percent.
In 2005, Ayer continued, The Hartford remains focused on growth, with an emphasis on relatively new product lines such as mutual funds and 401(k) products; building out new markets for investment products such as Japan; expanding the independent agency business for personal insurance with the help of its Dimensions auto and homeowners products; and extending its reach in the small business market aided by its new Xpand product.
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