COLUMBIA, S.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--
At the Unum Group (UNM) annual meeting today, President and CEO Thomas R. Watjen told shareholders that the company is poised to realize unparalleled market potential.
“Throughout our entire history we have built a tremendous franchise and legacy, and I’ve never been more optimistic about our prospects for growth or more confident in our ability to capitalize on the opportunities that lie ahead,” Watjen said.
With Unum’s disciplined dedication to its risk and financial objectives, Watjen’s confidence remains steady in the face of the slow economic recovery.
“We have shown that we can effectively operate in this environment by staying disciplined and focused on our business plan, while also taking the actions needed to capitalize on what we believe is unprecedented opportunity in our industry,” he added, noting nearly 70 percent of Americans and 90 percent of British workers, many of whom live paycheck-to-paycheck, lack adequate financial protection benefits.
Watjen made mention of other strengths that align the company for growth, such as high customer satisfaction, a strong brand reputation and nationally recognized corporate citizenship efforts, all backed by the daily commitment of nearly 10,000 employees across the globe.
“We take great pride in the difference we make in peoples’ lives by protecting them when they need it most, but with it comes the responsibility of maintaining the financial strength to meet these obligations,” he said.
Last year, Unum paid $6.5 billion in benefits to help protect the future of workers and their families and helped more than 230,000 people return to work and a productive lifestyle. While doing so, the company advanced its position in its markets, growing operating earnings per share, for the eighth consecutive year, by 5.4 percent. Total return on equity across all business lines was 11.4 percent.
Executive Vice President and CFO Richard P. McKenney reported that through an emphasis on strategic investments and sound risk management, the company has created steady value for shareholders and will be able to continue this over the long term.
“Our disciplined approach to our business has enabled us to generate solid margins and excess capital over the last several years,” McKenney said. “We have been able to channel this into investments in our business and the return of capital to our shareholders.”
The company repurchased $318 million of its stock in 2013 and increased its dividend by 11.5 percent, the fifth consecutive year of double-digit increases. Since 2007, the company has repurchased $2.5 billion in stock and increased its dividend 120 percent.
“We see this approach continuing to provide us with a strong financial foundation, and giving us flexibility for sustainable capital management and the pursuit of our growth objectives,” McKenney said.
Also at today’s meeting, Unum shareholders voted to re-elect four directors for terms expiring in 2015: Timothy F. Keaney, vice chairman and CEO of BNY Mellon; Gloria C. Larson, president of Bentley University; William J. Ryan, chairman of the board of Unum Group and former chairman, president and CEO of TD Banknorth; and Thomas R. Watjen, president and CEO of Unum Group. Michael Passarella, chairman of the Audit Committee, has reached mandatory retirement age and is retiring from the board effective at the end of the day.
Additionally, shareholders approved the company’s executive compensation and ratified the appointment of Ernst & Young LLP as the company’s independent registered public accounting firm.
ABOUT UNUM GROUP
Unum Group (www.unum.com) is a leading provider of financial protection benefits in the United States and the United Kingdom. Its primary businesses are Unum US, Colonial Life and Unum UK. Unum’s portfolio includes disability, life, accident and critical illness coverage, which help protect millions of working people and their families in the event of an illness or injury. The company reported revenues of $10.35 billion in 2013, and provided $6.5 billion in benefits last year.
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