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American Equity Investment Life Holding Reports Operating Results (10-K)

March 10, 2011 | About:
10qk

10qk

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American Equity Investment Life Holding (AEL) filed Annual Report for the period ended 2010-12-31.

American Equity Investment Life Holding Company has a market cap of $765.8 million; its shares were traded at around $13.12 with a P/E ratio of 7.4 and P/S ratio of 0.6. The dividend yield of American Equity Investment Life Holding Company stocks is 0.8%.

Highlight of Business Operations:

Fixed index annuities allow policyholders to earn index credits based on the performance of a particular index without the risk of loss of their principal. Most of these products allow policyholders to transfer funds once a year among several different crediting strategies, including one or more index based strategies and a traditional fixed rate strategy. Approximately 95%, 94% and 93% of our fixed index annuity sales for the years ended December 31, 2010, 2009 and 2008, respectively, were "premium bonus" products. The initial annuity deposit on these policies is increased at issuance by a specified premium bonus ranging from 3% to 10%. Generally, there is a compensating adjustment in the commission paid to the agent or the surrender charges on the policy to offset the premium bonus.

The annuity contract value is equal to the sum of premiums paid, premium bonuses and interest credited ("index credits"), which is based upon an overall limit (or "cap") or a percentage (the "participation rate") of the annual appreciation (based in certain situations on monthly averages or monthly point-to-point calculations) in a recognized index or benchmark. Caps and participation rates limit the amount of annual interest the policyholder may earn in any one contract year and may be adjusted by us annually subject to stated minimums. Caps generally range from 4% to 12% and participation rates generally range from 25% to 100%. In addition, some products have an "asset fee" ranging from 1.5% to 5%, which is deducted from annual interest to be credited. For products with asset fees, if the annual appreciation in the index does not exceed the asset fee, the policyholder's index credit is zero. The minimum guaranteed contract values are equal to 87.5% of the premium collected plus interest credited at an annual rate ranging from 1.5% to 3.5%.

Fixed rate deferred annuities include annual reset and multi-year rate guaranteed products. Our annual reset fixed rate annuities have an annual interest rate (the "crediting rate") that is guaranteed for the first policy year. After the first policy year, we have the discretionary ability to change the crediting rate once annually to any rate at or above a guaranteed minimum rate. Our multi-year rate guaranteed annuities are similar to our annual reset products except that the initial crediting rate is guaranteed for up to a seven-year period before it may be changed at our discretion. The guaranteed rate on our fixed rate deferred annuities ranges from 2% to 4% and the initial guaranteed rate on our multi-year rate guaranteed policies ranges from 2.65% to 5.10%.

Policyholders are typically permitted penalty-free withdrawals up to 10% of the contract value in each year after the first year, subject to limitations. Withdrawals in excess of allowable penalty-free amounts are assessed a surrender charge during a penalty period which ranges from 5 to 17 years for fixed index annuities and 3 to 15 years for fixed rate annuities from the date the policy is issued. This surrender charge initially ranges from 4.7% to 20% for fixed index annuities and 8% to 25% for fixed rate annuities of the contract value and generally decreases by approximately one to two percentage points per year during the surrender charge period. Surrender charges are set at levels aimed at protecting us from loss on early terminations and reducing the likelihood of policyholders terminating their policies during periods of increasing interest rates. This practice lengthens the effective duration of the policy liabilities and enhances our ability to maintain profitability on such policies. The policyholder may elect to take the proceeds of the annuity either in a single payment or in a series of payments for life, for a fixed number of years or a combination of these payment options.

One of our national marketing organizations accounted for more than 10% of the annuity deposits collected during 2010 and we expect this organization to continue as a marketer for American Equity Life with a focus on selling our products. The states with the largest share of direct premiums collected during 2010 were: Florida (11.5%), California (8.8%), Texas (7.0%), Illinois (6.1%) and Pennsylvania (5.2%).

American Equity Life has two coinsurance agreements with EquiTrust Life Insurance Company ("EquiTrust"), covering 70% of certain of our fixed index and fixed rate annuities issued from August 1, 2001 through December 31, 2001, 40% of those contracts issued during 2002 and 2003, and 20% of those contracts issued from January 1, 2004 to July 31, 2004, when the agreement was suspended by mutual consent of the parties. As a result of the suspension, new business is no longer ceded to EquiTrust. The business reinsured under these agreements is not eligible for recapture before the expiration of 10 years. Coinsurance deposits (aggregate policy benefit reserves transferred to EquiTrust under these agreements) were $1.3 billion and $1.4 billion at December 31, 2010 and 2009, respectively. We remain liable to policyholders with respect to the policy liabilities ceded to EquiTrust should EquiTrust fail to meet the obligations it has coinsured. EquiTrust has received a financial strength rating of "B+" (Good) with a stable outlook from A.M. Best Company. None of the coinsurance deposits with EquiTrust are deemed by management to be uncollectible.

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