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|Watjen Says Unum Building 'Sustainable Momentum'|
In annual meeting remarks, CEO says company is better prepared for uncertain economy
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 22, 2008--In his comments to stockholders at the company's annual meeting today, Thomas R. Watjen, president and CEO of Unum Group (NYSE: UNM), outlined the progress Unum has made in recent years and said the company continues to build sustainable momentum.
"Over the past several years, we have made solid progress in just about every area of the company, and we have significantly improved both our operations and financial position," said Watjen.
Watjen pointed to the company's financial strength and stockholder returns over the past three years as evidence that the actions taken to restore profitable growth and maintain a strong capital position are producing results. Since 2004, Unum has increased its operating income by 53 percent and more than tripled its capital position, ending 2007 with more than $1 billion in holding company liquidity. During that same period, Unum's market cap increased 62 percent and its stock price rose 44 percent, outpacing the S&P 500.
Additionally, Watjen said the steps Unum has taken to improve the quality of its investment portfolio, further diversify its business, build a stronger operational platform and develop greater access to the credit markets have resulted in less risk to the company. "These actions, along with our solid business plans and a better awareness of the risks inherent in those plans, will serve us well in this uncertain economic environment," he added.
Looking ahead, Watjen said the company will focus on: consistently executing its business and operating plans; maintaining disciplined, profitable growth; leveraging its leadership positions; and further developing its people.
"By focusing on these themes, we believe we can continue to instill even greater confidence in the company among our constituents," added Watjen. "By continuing to execute on our business plan, we will further our leadership position in employee benefits and continue to create value for our stockholders."
On a final note, Watjen stressed that the challenges inherent in today's marketplace can create opportunities for Unum. "The current environment presents unique opportunities - opportunities that closely parallel our strategic focus and vision," he said.
Watjen pointed out that, in the wake of continually rising health care costs, more employers are shifting some of the cost of benefits to employees, who generally need more help understanding the choices they face. At the same time, employers are facing an increasingly diverse workforce. Finally, savings rates have dropped to negative levels, leaving wage-earners with less of a personal safety net in the event of illness or injury.
"I know of no other benefits provider as uniquely positioned to help individuals and companies address these issues as Unum," Watjen said. "We have a strong base from which to build and a number of initiatives under way to meet these evolving needs."
Also at today's meeting, Unum stockholders approved the company's management incentive compensation plan of 2008 and elected four directors to terms expiring in 2011. They are: Jon S. Fossel, chairman of the board at Unum and retired chairman and chief executive officer of OppenheimerFunds; Gloria S. Larson, president of Bentley College; William J. Ryan, chairman of TD Banknorth Inc.; and Thomas R. Watjen. All are currently serving on the board.
Unum (www.unum.com) is one of the leading providers of employee benefits products and services in the United States and the United Kingdom. Through its subsidiaries, Unum Group provided more than $6 billion in total benefits to customers in 2007.
SAFE HARBOR STATEMENT
Statements in this press release that are not historical facts constitute "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include such general matters as general economic or business conditions; events or consequences relating to terrorism, acts of war and catastrophes, including natural and man-made disasters; competitive factors, including pricing pressures; legislative, regulatory, accounting, or tax law changes; and the interest rate environment. More specifically, they include fluctuations in insurance reserve liabilities; changes in projected new sales and renewals; variations between projections and actual experience in persistency rates, incidence and recovery rates, pricing and underwriting; retained risks in our reinsurance operations; availability and cost of reinsurance; the level and results of litigation, rating agency actions, and regulatory actions and investigations; actual experience in implementing and complying with the multistate market conduct regulatory settlement agreements and the California Department of Insurance settlement agreement; negative media attention; changes in assumptions relating to deferred acquisition costs, value of business acquired, or goodwill; the level of pension benefit costs and funding; investment results, including credit deterioration of investments; the ability of our insurance company subsidiaries to pay dividends or extend credit to us and certain of our intermediate holding company subsidiaries and/or finance subsidiaries; and effectiveness of product support and customer service. For further information of risks and uncertainties that could affect actual results, see our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including information in the sections titled "Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements" and "Risk Factors" in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2007 and subsequently filed Form 10-Qs. The forward-looking statements in this press release are being made as of the date of this press release, and we expressly disclaim any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statement contained herein.