StanCorp Rallies Most Since August as Profit Climbs

StanCorp Financial Group Inc., the seller of disability insurance, rose the most since August as profit surged, beating analysts’ estimates.

StanCorp jumped 4.5 percent to $65.38 at 10:53 a.m. in New York. The stock has rallied about 68 percent in the past year, compared with the 20 percent advance of the Russell 1000 Index.

Fourth-quarter net income climbed 69 percent to $65 million, the Portland, Oregon-based company said late yesterday in a statement. Operating profit, which excludes some investment results, was $1.49 a share, beating the $1.18 average estimate of 10 analysts in a Bloomberg survey.

“Employee benefits results were much better than expected,” Steven Schwartz, an analyst at Raymond James & Associates, said in a note. Schwartz rates StanCorp the equivalent of neutral.

The employee benefits unit spent 76.1 percent of every premium dollar on costs including policyholder claims and interest credited to clients. That compares with 83.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. Results improved as claims fell and the company charged more for long-term disability coverage.

The number of U.S. workers filing long-term disability claims declined for the first time in at least four years in 2012 as an improving economy gave people more opportunities to find a job, according to a June 2013 report from the Council for Disability Awareness. The unemployment rate was 6.7 percent in December, the lowest since October 2008.

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