2011-12-31_AEL 10K
UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
____________________________________
FORM 10-K
(Mark One)
 
 
x
 
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2011
or
o
 
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from                                  to                                 
Commission File Number:    001-31911
______________________________________________
American Equity Investment Life Holding Company
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Iowa
(State or other jurisdiction of Incorporation)
 
42-1447959
(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
6000 Westown Parkway
West Des Moines, Iowa
(Address of principal executive offices)
 
50266
(Zip Code)
Registrant's telephone number, including area code:    (515) 221-0002
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class
 
Name of each exchange on which registered
Common stock, par value $1
 
New York Stock Exchange
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: Common Stock, par value $1
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes o    No x
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Act. Yes o    No x
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes x    No o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Website, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). Yes o    No o
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant's knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this From 10-K. o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of "large accelerated filer," "accelerated filer" and "smaller reporting company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer o
Accelerated filer x
Non-accelerated filer o
(Do not check if a smaller
reporting company)
Smaller reporting company o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act.) Yes o    No x
Aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates of the registrant was $690,756,206 based on the closing price of $12.57 per share, the closing price of the common stock on the New York Stock Exchange on June 30, 2011.
Shares of common stock outstanding as of February 28, 2012: 59,784,330
Documents incorporated by reference: Portions of the registrant's definitive proxy statement for the annual meeting of shareholders to be held June 7, 2012, which will be filed within 120 days after December 31, 2011, are incorporated by reference into Part III of this report.


Table of Contents

AMERICAN EQUITY INVESTMENT LIFE HOLDING COMPANY
FORM 10-K FOR THE YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2011
TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
 
 
 
 
 
Exhibit 12.1
Ratio of Earnings to Fixed Charges
 
Exhibit 21.2
Subsidiaries of American Equity Investment Life Holding Company
 
Exhibit 23.1
Consent of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm
 
Exhibit 31.1
Certification
 
Exhibit 31.2
Certification
 
Exhibit 32.1
Certification
 
Exhibit 32.2
Certification
 



Table of Contents

PART I

Item 1.    Business
Introduction
We are a leader in the development and sale of fixed index and fixed rate annuity products. We were incorporated in the state of Iowa on December 15, 1995. We are a full service underwriter of fixed annuity and life insurance products through our wholly-owned life insurance subsidiaries, American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company ("American Equity Life"), American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company of New York, and Eagle Life Insurance Company ("Eagle Life"). Our business consists primarily of the sale of fixed index and fixed rate annuities and, accordingly, we have only one business segment. Our business strategy is to focus on our annuity business and earn predictable returns by managing investment spreads and investment risk. We are currently licensed to sell our products in 50 states and the District of Columbia. Throughout this report, unless otherwise specified or the context otherwise requires, all references to "American Equity", the "Company", "we", "our" and similar references are to American Equity Investment Life Holding Company and its consolidated subsidiaries.
Investor related information, including periodic reports filed on Forms 10-K, 10-Q and 8-K and all amendments to such reports may be found on our internet website at www.american-equity.com as soon as reasonably practicable after such reports are filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC"). In addition, we have available on our website our: (i) code of business conduct and ethics; (ii) audit committee charter; (iii) compensation committee charter; (iv) nominating/corporate governance committee charter; and (v) corporate governance guidelines. The information incorporated herein by reference is also electronically accessible from the SEC's website at www.sec.gov.
Annuity Market Overview
Our target market includes the group of individuals ages 45-75 who are seeking to accumulate tax-deferred savings. We believe that significant growth opportunities exist for annuity products because of favorable demographic and economic trends. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were approximately 39 million Americans age 65 and older in 2010, representing 13% of the U.S. population. By 2030, this sector of the population is expected to increase to 20% of the total population. Our fixed index and fixed rate annuity products are particularly attractive to this group as a result of the guarantee of principal with respect to those products, competitive rates of credited interest, tax-deferred growth and alternative payout options.
According to AnnuitySpecs.com, total industry sales of fixed index annuities increased 1% to $24.1 billion from $24.0 billion during the first three quarters of 2011 and 2010, respectively, and increased 7% to $32.3 billion in 2010 from $30.1 billion in 2009. Our wide range of fixed index and fixed rate annuity products has enabled us to enjoy favorable growth during volatile equity and bond markets.
Strategy
Our business strategy is to grow our annuity business and earn predictable returns by managing investment spreads and investment risk. Key elements of this strategy include the following:
Enhance our Current Independent Agency Network.  We believe that our successful relationships with approximately 60 national marketing organizations represent a significant competitive advantage. Our objective is to improve the productivity and efficiency of our core distribution channel by focusing our marketing and recruiting efforts on those independent agents capable of selling $1 million or more of annuity premium annually. This level of production qualifies them for our Gold Eagle program which was introduced at the beginning of 2007. We believe the Gold Eagle program has been effective as evidenced by the increase in Gold Eagle agents to 1,227 in 2011 as compared to 1,021 in 2010 and 891 in 2009, accounting for 57% of total production each year. Gold Eagle qualifiers receive a combination of cash and equity-based incentives as motivation for producing business for us. The equity-based incentive compensation component of our Gold Eagle program is unique in our industry and distinguishes us from our competitors. Our continuing focus on relationships and efficiency will ultimately reduce our independent agents to a core group of professional annuity producers. We will also be alert to opportunities to establish relationships with national marketing organizations and agents not presently associated with us and will continue to provide all of our marketers with the highest quality service possible.
Continue to Introduce Innovative and Competitive Products.  We intend to be at the forefront of the fixed index and fixed rate annuity industry in developing and introducing innovative and new competitive products. We were one of the first companies to offer a fixed index annuity that allows a choice among interest crediting strategies which include both equity and bond indices as well as a traditional fixed rate strategy. We were also one of the first companies to include a living income benefit rider with our fixed index annuities. We enhanced our living income benefit rider to provide policyholders with protection against inflation. We believe that our continued focus on anticipating and being responsive to the product needs of our independent agents and policyholders will lead to increased customer loyalty, revenues and profitability.
Use our Expertise to Achieve Targeted Spreads on Annuity Products.  We have had a successful track record in achieving the targeted spreads on our annuity products. We intend to continue to leverage our experience and expertise in managing the investment spread during a range of interest rate environments to achieve our targeted spreads.
Maintain our Profitability Focus and Improve Operating Efficiency.  We are committed to improving our profitability by advancing the scope and sophistication of our investment management and spread capabilities and continuously seeking out efficiencies within our operations. We have implemented competitive incentive programs for our national marketing organizations, agents and employees to stimulate performance.

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Table of Contents

Take Advantage of the Growing Popularity of Index Products.  We believe that the growing popularity of fixed index annuity products that allow equity and bond market participation without the risk of loss of the premium deposit presents an attractive opportunity to grow our business. We intend to capitalize on our reputation as a leading marketer of fixed index annuities in this expanding segment of the annuity market.
Focus on High Quality Service to Agents and Policyholders.  We have maintained high quality personal service as one of our highest priorities since the inception of our business, and continue to strive for an unprecedented level of timely and accurate service to both our agents and policyholders. We believe this is one of our strongest competitive advantages.
Expand our Distribution Channels.  We formed Eagle Life with the vision of developing a network of broker-dealer firms and registered investment advisors to distribute both registered and non-registered fixed index annuity products. We believe this to be the most effective means of building a core distribution channel of selling firms with registered representatives capable of selling $1 million or more of annuity premium annually.
Products
Annuities offer our policyholders a tax-deferred means of accumulating retirement savings, as well as a reliable source of income during the payout period. When our policyholders contribute cash to annuities, we account for these receipts as policy benefit reserves in the liability section of our consolidated balance sheet. The annuity deposits collected, by product type, during the three most recent fiscal years are as follows:
 
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
 
2011
 
2010
 
2009
 
 
Deposits
Collected
 
Deposits
as a % of
Total
 
Deposits
Collected
 
Deposits
as a % of
Total
 
Deposits
Collected
 
Deposits
as a % of
Total
 
 
(Dollars in thousands)
Fixed index annuities:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Index strategies
 
$
2,839,295

 
56
%
 
$
2,401,891

 
51
%
 
$
1,535,477

 
42
%
Fixed strategy
 
1,377,987

 
27
%
 
1,551,007

 
33
%
 
1,849,833

 
50
%
 
 
4,217,282

 
83
%
 
3,952,898

 
84
%
 
3,385,310

 
92
%
Fixed rate annuities
 
567,229

 
11
%
 
544,193

 
12
%
 
260,193

 
7
%
Single premium immediate annuities
 
305,603

 
6
%
 
171,628

 
4
%
 
32,055

 
1
%
 
 
$
5,090,114

 
100
%
 
$
4,668,719

 
100
%
 
$
3,677,558

 
100
%
Fixed Index Annuities
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%, 95% and 94% of our fixed index annuity sales for the years ended December 31, 2011, 2010 and 2009, 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 1% to 13.5% and participation rates generally range from 10% 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 Annuities
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 1.5% to 4% and the initial guaranteed rate on our multi-year rate guaranteed policies ranges from 2.4% to 5.10%.

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The initial crediting rate is largely a function of the interest rate we can earn on invested assets acquired with new annuity deposits and the rates offered on similar products by our competitors. For subsequent adjustments to crediting rates, we take into account the yield on our investment portfolio, annuity surrender assumptions, competitive industry pricing and crediting rate history for particular groups of annuity policies with similar characteristics. As of December 31, 2011, crediting rates on our outstanding fixed rate deferred annuities generally ranged from 2% to 5%. The average crediting rate on our outstanding fixed rate deferred annuities at December 31, 2011 was 3.31%.
We also sell single premium immediate annuities ("SPIAs"). Our SPIAs are designed to provide a series of periodic payments for a fixed period of time or for life, according to the policyholder's choice at the time of issue. The amounts, frequency and length of time of the payments are fixed at the outset of the annuity contract. SPIAs are often purchased by persons at or near retirement age who desire a steady stream of payments over a future period of years. The implicit interest rate on SPIAs is based on market conditions when the policy is issued. The implicit interest rate on our outstanding SPIAs averaged 2.60% at December 31, 2011.
Withdrawal Options—Fixed Index and Fixed Rate Annuities
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.
Beginning in July 2007, substantially all of our fixed index annuity policies were issued with a living income benefit rider. This rider provides an additional liquidity option to policyholders who elect to receive a guaranteed living income from their contract without requiring them to annuitize their contract value. The amount of the living income benefit available is determined by the growth in the policy's income account value as defined in the policy and the policyholder's age at the time the policyholder elects to begin receiving living income benefit payments. Living income benefit payments may be stopped and restarted at the election of the policyholder.
Life Insurance
These products include traditional ordinary and term, universal life and other interest-sensitive life insurance products. We have approximately $2.5 billion of life insurance in force as of December 31, 2011. We intend to continue offering a complete line of life insurance products for individual and group markets. Premiums related to this business accounted for 1% of revenues for the years ended December 31, 2011, 2010 and 2009.
Investments
Investment activities are an integral part of our business, and net investment income is a significant component of our total revenues. Profitability of many of our products is significantly affected by spreads between interest yields on investments, the cost of options to fund the annual index credits on our fixed index annuities and rates credited on our fixed rate annuities. We manage the index-based risk component of our fixed index annuities by purchasing call options on the applicable indices to fund the annual index credits on these annuities and by adjusting the caps, participation rates and asset fees on policy anniversary dates to reflect the change in the cost of such options which varies based on market conditions. All options are purchased to fund the index credits on our fixed index annuities on their respective anniversary dates, and new options are purchased at each of the anniversary dates to fund the next annual index credits. All credited rates on non-multi-year rate guaranteed fixed rate deferred annuities may be changed annually, subject to minimum guarantees. Changes in caps, participation rates and asset fees on fixed index annuities and crediting rates on fixed rate annuities may not be sufficient to maintain targeted investment spreads in all economic and market environments. In addition, competition and other factors, including the potential for increases in surrenders and withdrawals, may limit our ability to adjust or to maintain caps, participation rates, asset fees and crediting rates at levels necessary to avoid narrowing of spreads under certain market conditions. For the year ended December 31, 2011, the weighted average yield, computed on the average amortized cost basis of our investment portfolio, was 5.80% and the weighted average cost of our liabilities, excluding amortization of deferred sales inducements, was 2.77%.
For additional information regarding the composition of our investment portfolio and our interest rate risk management, see Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Financial Condition—Investments, Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk and note 3 to our audited consolidated financial statements.
Marketing
We market our products through a variable cost brokerage distribution network of approximately 60 national marketing organizations and, through them, 22,000 independent agents as of December 31, 2011. We emphasize high quality service to our agents and policyholders along with the prompt payment of commissions to our agents. We believe this has been significant in building excellent relationships with our existing agency force.

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Our independent agents and agencies range in profile from national sales organizations to personal producing general agents. We actively recruit new agents and terminate those agents who have not produced business for us in recent periods and are unlikely to sell our products in the future. In our recruitment efforts, we emphasize that agents have direct access to our executive officers, giving us an edge in recruiting over larger and foreign-owned competitors. We also emphasize our products and our Gold Eagle program which provides unique cash and equity-based incentives to those agents selling $1 million or more of annuity premium annually. We also have favorable relationships with our national marketing organizations, which have enabled us to efficiently sell through an expanded number of independent agents.
The insurance distribution system is comprised of insurance brokers and marketing organizations. We are pursuing a strategy to increase the efficiency of our distribution network by strengthening our relationships with key national and regional marketing organizations and are alert for opportunities to establish relationships with organizations not presently associated with us. These organizations typically recruit agents for us by advertising our products and our commission structure through direct mail advertising or seminars for insurance agents and brokers. These organizations bear most of the cost incurred in marketing our products. We compensate marketing organizations by paying them a percentage of the commissions earned on new annuity policy sales generated by the agents recruited by such organizations. We also conduct incentive programs for marketing organizations and agents from time to time, including equity-based programs for our leading national marketers and those agents qualifying for our Gold Eagle program. We believe the Gold Eagle program has been effective as evidenced by the increase in Gold Eagle agents to 1,227 in 2011 as compared to 1,021 in 2010 and 891 in 2009, accounting for 57% of total production each year. For additional information regarding our equity-based programs for our leading national marketers and independent agents, see note 11 to our audited consolidated financial statements. We generally do not enter into exclusive arrangements with these marketing organizations.
Two of our national marketing organizations accounted for more than 10% of the annuity deposits collected during 2011 and we expect these organizations to continue as marketers for American Equity Life with a focus on selling our products. The states with the largest share of direct premiums collected during 2011 were: Florida (9.6%), California (9.2%), Texas (6.7%), Illinois (5.6%) and Pennsylvania (4.9%).
Competition and Ratings
We operate in a highly competitive industry. Many of our competitors are substantially larger and enjoy substantially greater financial resources, higher ratings by rating agencies, broader and more diversified product lines and more widespread agency relationships. Our annuity products compete with fixed index, fixed rate and variable annuities sold by other insurance companies and also with mutual fund products, traditional bank investments and other investment and retirement funding alternatives offered by asset managers, banks, and broker-dealers. Our insurance products compete with products of other insurance companies, financial intermediaries and other institutions based on a number of features, including crediting rates, policy terms and conditions, service provided to distribution channels and policyholders, ratings, reputation and broker compensation.
The sales agents for our products use the ratings assigned to an insurer by independent rating agencies as one factor in determining which insurer's annuity to market. In recent years, the market for annuities has been dominated by those insurers with the highest ratings. The degree to which ratings adjustments have affected and will affect our sales and persistency is unknown. Following is a summary of American Equity Life's financial strength ratings:
 
Financial Strength Rating
 
Outlook Statement
A.M. Best Company
 
 
 
January 2011—current
A-
 
Stable
November 2008—January 2011
A-
 
Negative
August 2006—October 2008
A-
 
Stable
July 2002—July 2006
B++
 
Stable
Standard & Poor's
 
 
 
October 2011—Current
BBB+
 
Stable
September 2010—October 2011
BBB+
 
Positive
July 2010—September 2010
BBB+
 
Stable
July 2008—July 2010
BBB+
 
Negative
July 2002—June 2008
BBB+
 
Stable
Financial strength ratings generally involve quantitative and qualitative evaluations by rating agencies of a company's financial condition and operating performance. Generally, rating agencies base their ratings upon information furnished to them by the insurer and upon their own investigations, studies and assumptions. Ratings are based upon factors of concern to policyholders, agents and intermediaries and are not directed toward the protection of investors and are not recommendations to buy, sell or hold securities.
In addition to the financial strength ratings, rating agencies use an "outlook statement" to indicate a medium or long-term trend which, if continued, may lead to a rating change. A positive outlook indicates a rating may be raised and a negative outlook indicates a rating may be lowered. A stable outlook is assigned when ratings are not likely to be changed. Outlook statements should not be confused with expected stability of the insurer's financial or economic performance. A rating may have a "stable" outlook to indicate that the rating is not expected to change, but a "stable" outlook does not preclude a rating agency from changing a rating at any time without notice.

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In January 2012, A.M. Best affirmed its rating outlook on the U.S. life/annuity sector as stable. In November 2011, Standard & Poor's affirmed its outlook on the U.S. life insurance sector as stable. Both agencies have had their outlook on our industry stated as stable since late 2010. Sufficient capital and liquidity and strong results despite volatile equity markets and low interest rates have been listed as reasons for the stable outlook. We believe the rating agencies think the economic recovery will continue to be slow, which may leave the potential for further credit losses and low interest rates will put pressure on life insurers' earnings. The rating agencies have heightened the level of scrutiny they apply to insurance companies, increased the frequency and scope of their credit reviews, and may adjust upward the capital and other requirements employed in the rating agency models for maintenance of certain ratings levels.
A.M. Best Company ratings currently range from "A++" (Superior) to "F" (In Liquidation), and include 16 separate ratings categories. Within these categories, "A++" (Superior) and "A+" (Superior) are the highest, followed by "A" (Excellent) and "A-" (Excellent) then followed by "B++" (Good) and "B+" (Good). Publications of A.M. Best Company indicate that the "A-" rating is assigned to those companies that, in A.M. Best Company's opinion, have demonstrated an excellent ability to meet their ongoing obligations to policyholders.
Standard & Poor's insurer financial strength ratings currently range from "AAA (extremely strong)" to "R (under regulatory supervision)", and include 21 separate ratings categories, while "NR" indicates that Standard & Poor's has no opinion about the insurer's financial strength. Within these categories, "AAA" and "AA" are the highest, followed by "A" and "BBB". Publications of Standard & Poor's indicate that an insurer rated "BBB" is regarded as having good financial security characteristics, but is more likely to be affected by adverse business conditions than are higher rated insurers.
A.M. Best Company and Standard & Poor's review their ratings of insurance companies from time to time. There can be no assurance that any particular rating will continue for any given period of time or that it will not be changed or withdrawn entirely if, in their judgment, circumstances so warrant. If our ratings were to be negatively adjusted for any reason, we could experience a material decline in the sales of our products and the persistency of our existing business.
Reinsurance
Coinsurance
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. The business reinsured under these agreements may not be recaptured. Coinsurance deposits (aggregate policy benefit reserves transferred to EquiTrust under these agreements) were $1.1 billion and $1.3 billion at December 31, 2011 and 2010, 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.
Effective July 1, 2009, we entered into two funds withheld coinsurance agreements with Athene Life Re Ltd. ("Athene"), an unauthorized life reinsurer domiciled in Bermuda. One agreement ceded 20% of certain of our fixed index annuities issued from January 1, 2009 through March 31, 2010. The business reinsured under this agreement is not eligible for recapture until the end of the month following seven years after the date of issuance of the policy. The other agreement cedes 80% of our multi-year rate guaranteed annuities issued on or after July 1, 2009. The business reinsured under this agreement may not be recaptured. Coinsurance deposits (aggregate policy benefit reserves transferred to Athene under these agreements) were $1.7 billion and $1.3 billion at December 31, 2011 and 2010, respectively. We remain liable to policyholders with respect to the policy liabilities ceded to Athene should Athene fail to meet the obligations it has coinsured. The annuity deposits that have been ceded to Athene are being held in a trust on a funds withheld basis. American Equity Life is named as the sole beneficiary of the trust. The funds withheld are required to remain at a value that is sufficient to support the current balance of policy benefit liabilities of the ceded business on a statutory basis. If the value of the funds withheld account would ever reach a point where it is less than the amount of the ceded policy benefit liabilities on a statutory basis, Athene is required to either establish a letter of credit or deposit securities in a trust for the amount of any shortfall. None of the coinsurance deposits with Athene are deemed by management to be uncollectible.
Financing Arrangements
American Equity Life has three reinsurance transactions with Hannover Life Reassurance Company of America, ("Hannover"), which are treated as reinsurance under statutory accounting practices and as financing arrangements under U.S. generally accepted accounting principles ("GAAP"). The statutory surplus benefits under these agreements are eliminated under GAAP and the associated charges are recorded as risk charges and included in other operating costs and expenses in the consolidated statements of operations. The transactions became effective October 1, 2005 (the "2005 Hannover Transaction"), December 31, 2008 (the "2008 Hannover Transaction") and March 31, 2011 (the "2011 Hannover Transaction").
The 2011 Hannover Transaction is a coinsurance and yearly renewable term reinsurance agreement for statutory purposes and provided $49.2 million in net pretax statutory surplus benefit at inception in 2011. Pursuant to the terms of this agreement, pretax statutory surplus was reduced by $9.2 million in 2011 and is expected to be reduced as follows: 2012—$11.8 million, 2013—$11.3 million, 2014—$10.8 million and 2015—$10.3 million. These amounts include risk charges equal to 1.25% of the pretax statutory surplus benefit as of the end of each calendar quarter.

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The 2008 Hannover Transaction is a coinsurance and yearly renewable term reinsurance agreement for statutory purposes and provided $29.5 million in net pretax statutory surplus benefit in 2008. Pursuant to the terms of this agreement, pretax statutory surplus was reduced by $6.7 million in 2011 and is expected to be reduced as follows: 2012—$6.8 million and 2013—$6.9 million. These amounts include risk charges equal to 1.25% of the pretax statutory surplus benefit as of the end of each calendar quarter.
The 2005 Hannover Transaction is a yearly renewable term reinsurance agreement for statutory purposes covering 47% of waived surrender charges related to penalty free withdrawals and deaths on certain business. The agreement was amended in 2010 and 2009 to include policy forms that were not in existence at the time this agreement became effective. We may recapture the risks reinsured under this agreement as of the end of any quarter beginning October 1, 2008. The 2009 amendment includes a provision that makes it punitive for us not to recapture the business ceded prior to January 1, 2013. We anticipate amending this agreement in 2012 to extend this date. The reserve credit recorded on a statutory basis by American Equity Life was $162.5 million and $135.2 million at December 31, 2011 and 2010, respectively. We pay quarterly reinsurance premiums under this agreement with an experience refund calculated on a quarterly basis resulting in a risk charge equal to approximately 5.8% of the weighted average statutory reserve credit.
Indemnity Reinsurance
Consistent with the general practice of the life insurance industry, American Equity Life enters into agreements of indemnity reinsurance with other insurance companies in order to reinsure portions of the coverage provided by its annuity, life and accident and health insurance products. Indemnity reinsurance agreements are intended to limit a life insurer's maximum loss on a large or unusually hazardous risk or to diversify its risks. Indemnity reinsurance does not discharge the original insurer's primary liability to the insured.
The maximum loss retained by us on all life insurance policies we have issued was $0.1 million or less as of December 31, 2011. American Equity Life's reinsured business under indemnity reinsurance agreements is primarily ceded to two reinsurers. Reinsurance related to life and accident and health insurance that was ceded by us to these reinsurers was immaterial.
During 2007, American Equity Life entered into reinsurance agreements with Ace Tempest Life Reinsurance Ltd and Hannover to cede to each 50% of the risk associated with our living income benefit rider on certain fixed index annuities issued in 2007. The amounts ceded under these agreements were immaterial as of and for the years ended December 31, 2011 and 2010.
We believe the assuming companies will be able to honor all contractual commitments, based on our periodic review of their financial statements, insurance industry reports and reports filed with state insurance departments.
Regulation
Life insurance companies are subject to regulation and supervision by the states in which they transact business. State insurance laws establish supervisory agencies with broad regulatory authority, including the power to:
grant and revoke licenses to transact business;
regulate and supervise trade practices and market conduct;
establish guaranty associations;
license agents;
approve policy forms;
approve premium rates for some lines of business;
establish reserve requirements;
prescribe the form and content of required financial statements and reports;
determine the reasonableness and adequacy of statutory capital and surplus;
perform financial, market conduct and other examinations;
define acceptable accounting principles for statutory reporting;
regulate the type and amount of permitted investments; and
limit the amount of dividends and surplus note payments that can be paid without obtaining regulatory approval.
Our life subsidiaries are subject to periodic examinations by state regulatory authorities. The New York Insurance Department is currently performing its usual tri-annual financial exam of American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company of New York for the period ending December 31, 2010. This exam is anticipated to be completed in 2012.
The payment of dividends or the distributions, including surplus note payments, by our life subsidiaries is subject to regulation by each subsidiary's state of domicile's insurance department. Currently, American Equity Life may pay dividends or make other distributions without the prior approval of the Iowa Insurance Commissioner, unless such payments, together with all other such payments within the preceding twelve months, exceed the greater of (1) American Equity Life's statutory net gain from operations for the preceding calendar year, or (2) 10% of American Equity Life's statutory surplus at the preceding December 31. For 2012, up to $195.5 million can be distributed as dividends by American Equity Life without prior approval of the Iowa Insurance Commissioner. In addition, dividends and surplus note payments may be made only out of earned surplus, and all surplus note payments are subject to prior approval by regulatory authorities. American Equity Life had $671.3 million of statutory earned surplus at December 31, 2011.

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Most states have also enacted regulations on the activities of insurance holding company systems, including acquisitions, extraordinary dividends, the terms of surplus notes, the terms of affiliate transactions and other related matters. We are registered pursuant to such legislation in Iowa. A number of state legislatures have also considered or have enacted legislative proposals that alter and, in many cases, increase the authority of state agencies to regulate insurance companies and holding company systems.
Most states, including Iowa and New York where our life subsidiaries are domiciled, have enacted legislation or adopted administrative regulations affecting the acquisition of control of insurance companies as well as transactions between insurance companies and persons controlling them. The nature and extent of such legislation and regulations currently in effect vary from state to state. However, most states require administrative approval of the direct or indirect acquisition of 10% or more of the outstanding voting securities of an insurance company incorporated in the state. The acquisition of 10% of such securities is generally deemed to be the acquisition of "control" for the purpose of the holding company statutes and requires not only the filing of detailed information concerning the acquiring parties and the plan of acquisition, but also administrative approval prior to the acquisition. In many states, the insurance authority may find that "control" in fact does not exist in circumstances in which a person owns or controls more than 10% of the voting securities.
Although the federal government does not directly regulate the business of insurance, federal legislation and administrative policies in several areas, including pension regulation, age and sex discrimination, financial services regulation, securities regulation and federal taxation can significantly affect the insurance business.
In 2010, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act ("Dodd-Frank Act") was signed into law. This legislation mandated multiple studies and reports to be provided to Congress, which could result in additional legislative or regulatory action. The ultimate impact of this law to our business and operations may not be known for quite some time.
State insurance regulators and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners ("NAIC") are continually reexamining existing laws and regulations and developing new legislation for the passage by state legislatures and new regulations for adoption by insurance authorities. Proposed laws and regulations or those still under development pertain to insurer solvency and market conduct and in recent years have focused on:
insurance company investments;
risk-based capital ("RBC") guidelines, which consist of regulatory targeted surplus levels based on the relationship of statutory capital and surplus, with prescribed adjustments, to the sum of stated percentages of each element of a specified list of company risk exposures;
the implementation of non-statutory guidelines and the circumstances under which dividends may be paid;
principles-based reserving;
product approvals;
agent licensing;
underwriting practices; and
life insurance and annuity sales practices.
The NAIC's RBC requirements are intended to be used by insurance regulators as an early warning tool to identify deteriorating or weakly capitalized insurance companies for the purpose of initiating regulatory action. The RBC formula defines a minimum capital standard which supplements low, fixed minimum capital and surplus requirements previously implemented on a state-by-state basis. Such requirements are not designed as a ranking mechanism for adequately capitalized companies.
The NAIC's RBC requirements provide for four levels of regulatory attention depending on the ratio of a company's total adjusted capital to its RBC. Adjusted capital is defined as the total of statutory capital and surplus, asset valuation reserve and certain other adjustments. Calculations using the NAIC formula at December 31, 2011, indicated that American Equity Life's ratio of total adjusted capital to the highest level at which regulatory action might be initiated was 346%.
Our life subsidiaries also may be required, under the solvency or guaranty laws of most states in which they do business, to pay assessments up to certain prescribed limits to fund policyholder losses or liabilities of insolvent insurance companies. These assessments may be deferred or forgiven under most guaranty laws if they would threaten an insurer's financial strength and, in certain instances, may be offset against future premium taxes. Assessments related to business reinsured for periods prior to the effective date of the reinsurance are the responsibility of the ceding companies.
Federal Income Tax
The annuity and life insurance products that we market generally provide the policyholder with a federal income tax advantage, as compared to certain other savings investments such as certificates of deposit and taxable bonds, in that federal income taxation on any increases in the contract values (i.e., the "inside build-up") of these products is deferred until it is received by the policyholder. With other savings investments, the increase in value is generally taxed each year as it is realized. Additionally, life insurance death benefits are generally exempt from income tax.
From time to time, various tax law changes have been proposed that could have an adverse effect on our business, including the elimination of all or a portion of the income tax advantage described above for annuities and life insurance. If legislation were enacted to eliminate the tax deferral for annuities, such a change would have an adverse effect on our ability to sell non-qualified annuities. Non-qualified annuities are annuities that are not sold to an individual retirement account or other qualified retirement plan.

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Beginning in 2013, distributions from non-qualified annuity policies will be considered "investment income" for purposes of the newly enacted Medicare tax on investment income contained in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. As a result, in certain circumstances a 3.8% tax ("Medicare Tax") may be applied to some or the entire taxable portion of distributions from non-qualified annuities to individuals whose income exceeds certain threshold amounts. This new tax may have an adverse effect on our ability to sell non-qualified annuities to
individuals whose income exceeds these threshold amounts and could accelerate withdrawals due to additional tax. The constitutionality of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 continues to be the subject of litigation initiated by various state attorneys general, some of which is currently pending at the appeal level, and it is also the subject of several proposals in the U.S. Congress for amendment and/or repeal. The outcome of such litigation and legislative action as it relates to the Medicare Tax is unknown at this time.
Employees
As of December 31, 2011, we had 386 full-time employees. We have experienced no work stoppages or strikes and consider our relations with our employees to be excellent. None of our employees are represented by a union.

ITEM 1A.    RISK FACTORS
Although economic conditions both domestically and globally have continued to improve since the financial crisis in 2008, we remain vulnerable to market uncertainty and continued financial instability of national, state and local governments. Continued difficult conditions in the global capital markets and economy could deteriorate in the near future and affect our financial position and our level of earnings from our operations.
Markets in the United States and elsewhere have experienced extreme volatility and disruption since the second half of 2007, due in part to the financial stresses affecting the liquidity of the banking system and the financial markets. This volatility and disruption reached unprecedented levels in late 2008 and early 2009. The United States entered a severe recession and recovery has proved to be slow and long-term. High unemployment rates and lower average household income levels have emerged as continued lagging indicators of a slow economic recovery. The continuing market uncertainty has directly and materially affected our investment portfolio. One of the strategies used by the U.S. government to stimulate the economy has been to keep interest rates low and increase the supply of United States dollars. While these strategies have appeared to be somewhat successful, any future economic downturn or market disruption could negatively impact our ability to invest funds.
Specifically, if market conditions deteriorate in 2012 or beyond:
our investment portfolio could incur additional other than temporary impairments;
our commercial mortgage loans could experience a greater amount of loss;
due to potential downgrades in our investment portfolio, we could be required to raise additional capital to sustain our current business in force and new sales of our annuity products, which may be difficult in a distressed market. If capital would be available, it may be at terms that are not favorable to us;
we may be required to limit growth in sales of our annuity products; and/or
our liquidity could be negatively affected and we could be forced to limit our operations and our business could suffer, as we need liquidity to pay our policyholder benefits, operating expenses, dividends on our capital stock, and to service our debt obligations.
The principal sources of our liquidity are annuity deposits, investment income and proceeds from the sale, maturity and call of investments. Additional sources of liquidity in normal markets also include a variety of short and long-term instruments, including long-term debt and capital securities.
Governmental initiatives intended to improve global and local economies that have been adopted may not be effective and, in any event, may be accompanied by other initiatives, including new capital requirements or other regulations, that could materially affect our results of operations, financial condition and liquidity in ways that we cannot predict.
We are subject to extensive laws and regulations that are administered and enforced by a number of different regulatory authorities including state insurance regulators, the NAIC, the SEC and the New York Stock Exchange. Some of these authorities are or may in the future consider enhanced or new regulatory requirements intended to prevent future economic crises or otherwise assure the stability of institutions under their supervision. These authorities may also seek to exercise their supervisory or enforcement authority in new or more robust ways. All of these possibilities, if they occurred, could affect the way we conduct our business and manage our capital, and may require us to satisfy increased capital requirements, any of which in turn could materially affect our results of operations, financial condition and liquidity.
We are exposed to significant financial and capital risk, including changing interest rates, credit spreads and equity prices which may have an adverse effect on sales of our products, profitability, investment portfolio and reported book value per share.
Future changes in interest rates, credit spreads and equity and bond indices may result in fluctuations in the income derived from our investments. These and other factors due to the current economic uncertainty could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.

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Interest rate and credit spread risk
Our interest rate risk is related to market price and changes in cash flow. Substantial and sustained increases and decreases in market interest rates can materially and adversely affect the profitability of our products, our ability to earn predictable returns, the fair value of our investments and the reported value of stockholders' equity. A rise in interest rates, in the absence of other countervailing changes, will decrease the unrealized gain position of our investment portfolio and may result in an unrealized loss position. With respect to our available for sale fixed maturity securities, such declines in value (net of income taxes and certain adjustments for assumed changes in amortization of deferred policy acquisition costs and deferred sales inducements) reduce our reported stockholders' equity and book value per share.
If interest rates rise dramatically within a short period of time, our business may be exposed to disintermediation risk. Disintermediation risk is the risk that our policyholders may surrender all or part of their contracts in a rising interest rate environment, which may require us to sell assets in an unrealized loss position. Alternatively, we may increase crediting rates to retain business and reduce the level of assets that may need to be sold at a loss. However, such action would reduce our investment spread and net income.
We hold a substantial amount of fixed maturity securities that are callable by the issuer prior to maturity, and since 2008, we have received significant amounts of redemption proceeds related to calls of securities issued by United States Government sponsored agencies. We have reinvested the proceeds from these redemptions into new securities issued by such agencies, corporate securities and securities issued by United States municipalities, states and territories. The callable United States Government sponsored agencies that we own / purchase typically provide for 12 months of call protection, after which they may be called on the first anniversary of the issue date, or any semi-annual or annual redemption date thereafter. As such, at any financial reporting date, substantially all of the securities we own issued by United States Government sponsored agencies that are not residential mortgage-backed securities are callable by the respective agency within 12 months.
Due to the long-term nature of our annuity liabilities, sustained declines in long-term interest rates may result in increased redemptions of our fixed maturity securities that are subject to call redemption prior to maturity by the issuer and expose us to reinvestment risk. If we are unable to reinvest the proceeds from such redemptions into investments with credit quality and yield characteristics of the redeemed securities, our net income and overall financial performance may be adversely affected. We have a certain ability to mitigate this risk by lowering crediting rates on our products subject to certain restrictions as discussed below.
Our exposure to credit spreads is related to market price and changes in cash flows related to changes in credit spreads. If credit spreads widen significantly it would probably lead to additional other than temporary impairments. If credit spreads tighten significantly it could result in reduced net investment income associated with new purchases of fixed maturity securities.
Credit risk
We are subject to the risk that the issuers of our fixed maturity securities and other debt securities and borrowers on our commercial mortgages, will default on principal and interest payments, particularly if a major downturn in economic activity occurs. An increase in defaults on our fixed maturity securities and commercial mortgage loan portfolios could harm our financial strength and reduce our profitability.
Credit and cash flow assumption risk is the risk that issuers of securities, mortgagees on mortgage loans or other parties, including reinsurers and derivatives counterparties, default on their contractual obligations or experience adverse changes to their contractual cash flow streams. We attempt to minimize the adverse impact of this risk by monitoring portfolio diversification by asset class, creditor, industry, and by complying with investment limitations governed by state insurance laws and regulations as applicable. We also consider all relevant objective information available in estimating the cash flows related to residential mortgage backed securities. We monitor and manage exposures to determine whether securities are impaired or loans are deemed uncollectible.
We use derivative instruments to fund the annual credits on our fixed index annuities. We purchase derivative instruments, consisting primarily of one-year call options, from a number of counterparties. Our policy is to acquire such options only from counterparties rated "A-"or better by a nationally recognized rating agency and the maximum credit exposure to any single counterparty is subject to concentration limits. In addition, we have entered into credit support agreements which allow us to require posting of collateral by our counterparties to secure their obligations to us under the derivative instruments. If our counterparties fail to honor their obligations under the derivative instruments, our revenues may not be sufficient to fund the annual index credits on our fixed index annuities. Any such failure could harm our financial strength and reduce our profitability.
Liquidity risk
We could have difficulty selling our commercial mortgage loans because they are less liquid than our publicly traded securities. If we require significant amounts of cash on short notice, we may have difficulty selling these loans at attractive prices or in a timely manner, or both.
Fluctuations in interest rates and investment spread could adversely affect our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
A key component of our net income is the investment spread. A narrowing of investment spreads may adversely affect operating results. Although we have the right to adjust interest crediting rates (cap, participation or asset fee rates for fixed index annuities) on most products, changes to crediting rates may not be sufficient to maintain targeted investment spreads in all economic and market environments. In general, our ability to lower crediting rates is subject to minimum crediting rates filed with and approved by state regulators. In addition, competition and other factors, including the potential for increases in surrenders and withdrawals, may limit our ability to adjust or maintain crediting rates at levels necessary to avoid the narrowing of spreads under certain market conditions. Our policy structure generally provides for resetting of policy crediting rates at least annually and imposes withdrawal penalties for withdrawals during the first 3 to 17 years a policy is in force.

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Managing the investment spread on our fixed index annuities is more complex than it is for fixed rate annuity products. We manage the index-based risk component of our fixed index annuities by purchasing call options on the applicable indices to fund the annual index credits on these annuities and by adjusting the caps, participation rates and asset fees on policy anniversary dates to reflect changes in the cost of such options which varies based on market conditions. The price of such options generally increases with increases in the volatility in both the indices and interest rates, which may either narrow the spread or cause us to lower caps or participation rates. Thus, the volatility of the indices adds an additional degree of uncertainty to the profitability of the index products. We attempt to mitigate this risk by resetting caps, participation rates and asset fees annually on the policy anniversaries.
Our valuation of fixed maturity and equity securities may include methodologies, estimates and assumptions which are subject to differing interpretations and could result in changes to investment valuations that may materially adversely affect our results of operations or financial condition.
Fixed maturity securities and equity securities are reported at fair value in our consolidated balance sheets. During periods of market disruption including periods of significantly rising or high interest rates, rapidly widening credit spreads or illiquidity, it may be difficult to value certain of our securities if trading becomes less frequent and/or market data becomes less observable. Prices provided by independent broker quotes or independent pricing services that are used in the determination of fair value can vary significantly for a particular security. There may be certain asset classes that were in active markets with significant observable data that become illiquid due to the current financial environment. As such, valuations may include inputs and assumptions that are less observable or require greater judgment as well as valuation methods that require greater judgment. Further, rapidly changing and unprecedented credit and equity market conditions could materially impact the valuation of securities as reported in our consolidated financial statements and the period-to-period changes in value could vary significantly. Decreases in value may have a material adverse effect on our results of operations or financial condition.
Defaults on commercial mortgage loans and volatility in performance may adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Commercial mortgage loans face heightened delinquency and default risk due to recent economic conditions which have had a negative impact on the performance of the underlying collateral, resulting in declining values and an adverse impact on the obligors of such instruments. An increase in the default rate of our commercial mortgage loan investments could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In addition, the carrying value of commercial mortgage loans is negatively impacted by such factors. The carrying value of commercial mortgage loans is stated at outstanding principal less any loan loss allowances recognized. Considerations in determining allowances include, but are not limited to, the following: (i) declining debt service coverage ratios and increasing loan to value ratios; (ii) bankruptcy filings of major tenants or affiliates of the borrower on the property; (iii) catastrophic events at the property; and (iv) other subjective events or factors, including whether the terms of the debt will be restructured. There can be no assurance that management's assessment of loan loss allowances on commercial mortgage loans will not change in future periods, which could lead to investment losses.
We face competition from companies that have greater financial resources, broader arrays of products, higher ratings and stronger financial performance, which may impair our ability to retain existing customers, attract new customers and maintain our profitability and financial strength.
We operate in a highly competitive industry. Many of our competitors are substantially larger and enjoy substantially greater financial resources, higher ratings by rating agencies, broader and more diversified product lines and more widespread agency relationships. Our annuity products compete with index, fixed rate and variable annuities sold by other insurance companies and also with mutual fund products, traditional bank investments and other retirement funding alternatives offered by asset managers, banks and broker-dealers. Our insurance products compete with those of other insurance companies, financial intermediaries and other institutions based on a number of factors, including premium rates, policy terms and conditions, service provided to distribution channels and policyholders, ratings by rating agencies, reputation and commission structures.
While we compete with numerous other companies, we view the following as our most significant competitors:
Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America;
Aviva USA;
Great American Life Insurance Company;
Midland National Life Insurance Company;
North American Company for Life and Health Insurance; and
Security Benefit Life.
Our ability to compete depends in part on rates of interest credited to policyholder account balances or the parameters governing the determination of index credits which is driven by our investment performance. We will not be able to accumulate and retain assets under management for our products if our investment results under perform the market or the competition, since such under performance likely would result in asset withdrawals and reduced sales.

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We compete for distribution sources for our products. We believe that our success in competing for distributors depends on factors such as our financial strength, the services we provide to, and the relationships we develop with these distributors and offering competitive commission structures. Our distributors are generally free to sell products from whichever providers they wish, which makes it important for us to continually offer distributors products and services they find attractive. If our products or services fall short of distributors' needs, we may not be able to establish and maintain satisfactory relationships with distributors of our annuity and life insurance products. Our ability to compete in the past has also depended in part on our ability to develop innovative new products and bring them to market more quickly than our competitors. In order for us to compete in the future, we will need to continue to bring innovative products to market in a timely fashion. Otherwise, our revenues and profitability could suffer.
Our reinsurance program involves risks because we remain liable with respect to the liabilities ceded to reinsurers if the reinsurers fail to meet the obligations assumed by them.
Our life insurance subsidiaries cede certain policies to other insurance companies through reinsurance agreements. American Equity Life has entered into two coinsurance agreements with EquiTrust covering $1.1 billion of policy benefit reserves at December 31, 2011 and into two funds withheld coinsurance agreements with Athene Life Re Ltd. ("Athene"), an unauthorized life reinsurer domiciled in Bermuda, covering $1.7 billion of policy benefit reserves at December 31, 2011. Since Athene is an unauthorized reinsurer, the annuity deposits that have been ceded to Athene are held in a trust on a funds withheld basis. The funds withheld are required to remain at a value that is sufficient to support the current balance of policy benefit liabilities of the ceded business on a statutory basis. If the value of the funds withheld would ever reach a point where it is less than the amount of the ceded policy benefit liabilities on a statutory basis, Athene is required to either establish a letter of credit or deposit securities to the funds withheld for the amount of any shortfall. We remain liable with respect to the policy liabilities ceded to EquiTrust and Athene should either fail to meet the obligations assumed by them.
In addition, we have entered into other types of reinsurance contracts including indemnity reinsurance and financing arrangements. Should any of these reinsurers fail to meet the obligations assumed under such contracts, we remain liable with respect to the liabilities ceded.
Further, no assurances can be made that reinsurance will remain continuously available to us to the same extent and on the same terms as are currently available. If we were unable to maintain our current level of reinsurance or purchase new reinsurance protection in amounts that we consider sufficient and at prices that we consider acceptable, we would have to accept an increase in our net liability exposure, reduce the amount of business we write, or develop other alternatives to reinsurance.
We may experience volatility in net income due to the application of fair value accounting to our derivative instruments.
All of our derivative instruments, including certain derivative instruments embedded in other contracts, are recognized in the balance sheet at their fair values and changes in fair value are recognized immediately in earnings. This impacts certain revenues and expenses we report for our fixed index annuity business as follows:
We must present the call options purchased to fund the annual index credits on our fixed index annuity products at fair value. The fair value of the call options is based upon the amount of cash that would be required to settle the call options obtained from the counterparties adjusted for the nonperformance risk of the counterparty. We record the change in fair value of these options as a component of our revenues. The change in fair value of derivatives includes the gains or losses recognized at expiration of the option term or upon early termination and changes in fair value for open positions.
The contractual obligations for future annual index credits are treated as a "series of embedded derivatives" over the expected life of the applicable contracts. Increases or decreases in the fair value of embedded derivatives generally correspond to increases or decreases in equity market performance and changes in the interest rates used to discount the excess of the projected policy contract values over the projected minimum guaranteed contract values. We record the change in fair value of these embedded derivatives as a component of our benefits and expenses in our consolidated statements of operations.
The application of fair value accounting for derivatives and embedded derivatives in future periods to our fixed index annuity business may cause substantial volatility in our reported net income.
We may face unanticipated losses if there are significant deviations from our assumptions regarding the probabilities that our annuity contracts will remain in force from one period to the next.
The expected future profitability of our annuity products is based in part upon expected patterns of premiums, expenses and benefits using a number of assumptions, including those related to the probability that a policy or contract will remain in force, or persistency, and mortality. Since no insurer can precisely determine persistency or mortality, actual results could differ significantly from assumptions, and deviations from estimates and assumptions could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. For example actual persistency that is lower than our assumptions could have an adverse impact on future profitability, especially in the early years of a policy or contract primarily because we would be required to accelerate the amortization of expenses we deferred in connection with the acquisition of the policy.
In addition, we set initial crediting rates for our annuity products based upon expected claims and payment patterns, using assumptions for, among other factors, mortality rates of our policyholders. The long-term profitability of these products depends upon how our actual experience compares with our pricing assumptions. For example, if mortality rates are lower than our pricing assumptions, we could be required to make more payments under certain annuity contracts in addition to what we had projected.

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If our estimated gross profits change significantly from initial expectations we may be required to expense our deferred policy acquisition costs and deferred sales inducements in an accelerated manner, which would reduce our profitability.
Deferred policy acquisition costs represent costs that vary with and primarily relate to the acquisition of new business. Deferred sales inducements are contract enhancements such as first-year premium and interest bonuses that are credited to policyholder account balances. These costs are capitalized when incurred and are amortized over the life of the contracts. Current amortization of these costs is generally in proportion to expected gross profits from interest margins and, to a lesser extent, from surrender charges. Unfavorable experience with regard to expected expenses, investment returns, mortality or withdrawals may cause acceleration of the amortization of these costs resulting in an increase of expenses and lower profitability.
If we do not manage our growth effectively, our financial performance could be adversely affected; our historical growth rates may not be indicative of our future growth.
We have experienced rapid growth since our formation in December 1995. We intend to continue to grow by recruiting new independent agents, increasing the productivity of our existing agents, expanding our insurance distribution network, developing new products, expanding into new product lines, and continuing to develop new incentives for our sales agents. Future growth will impose significant added responsibilities on our management, including the need to identify, recruit, maintain and integrate additional employees, including management. There can be no assurance that we will be successful in expanding our business or that our systems, procedures and controls will be adequate to support our operations as they expand. In addition, due to our rapid growth and resulting increased size, it may be necessary to expand the scope of our investing activities to asset classes in which we historically have not invested or have not had significant exposure. If we are unable to adequately manage our investments in these classes, our financial condition or operating results in the future could be less favorable than in the past. Further, we have utilized reinsurance in the past to support our growth. The future availability and cost of reinsurance is uncertain. Our failure to manage growth effectively, or our inability to recruit, maintain and integrate additional qualified employees and independent agents, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. In addition, due to our rapid growth, our historical growth rates are not likely to accurately reflect our future growth rates or our growth potential. We cannot assure you that our future revenues will increase or that we will continue to be profitable.
The loss of key employees could disrupt our operations.
Our success depends in part on the continued service of key executives and our ability to attract and retain additional executives and employees. We do not have employment agreements with our executive officers. The loss of key employees, or our inability to recruit and retain additional qualified personnel, could cause disruption in our business and prevent us from fully implementing our business strategies, which could materially and adversely affect our business, growth and profitability.
Controls and disaster recovery plans surrounding our information technology could fail or security could be compromised, which could damage our business and adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.
Our business is highly dependent upon the effective operation of our information technology (IT). We rely on IT throughout our business for a variety of functions, including processing claims and applications, providing information to policyholders and distributors, performing actuarial analyses and maintaining financial records. Despite the implementation of security and back-up measures, our IT may be vulnerable to physical or electronic intrusions, computer viruses or other attacks, programming errors and similar disruptive problems. The failure of controls and/or disaster recovery plans surrounding our IT for any reason could cause significant interruptions to our operations, which could result in a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
We retain confidential information within our IT, and we rely on sophisticated commercial technologies to maintain the security of those systems. Anyone who is able to circumvent our security measures and penetrate our IT could access, view, misappropriate, alter, or delete any information in the systems, including personally identifiable policyholder information and proprietary business information. In addition, an increasing number of states and foreign countries require that persons be notified if a security breach results in the disclosure of personally identifiable customer information. Any compromise of the security of our computer systems that results in inappropriate disclosure of personally identifiable customer information could damage our reputation in the marketplace, deter people from purchasing our products, subject us to significant civil and criminal liability and require us to incur significant technical, legal and other expenses.
If we are unable to attract and retain national marketing organizations and independent agents, sales of our products may be reduced.
We distribute our annuity products through a variable cost distribution network which included over 60 national marketing organizations and 22,000 independent agents as of December 31, 2011. We must attract and retain such marketers and agents to sell our products. Insurance companies compete vigorously for productive agents. We compete with other life insurance companies for marketers and agents primarily on the basis of our financial position, support services, compensation and product features. Such marketers and agents may promote products offered by other life insurance companies that may offer a larger variety of products than we do. Our competitiveness for such marketers and agents also depends upon the long-term relationships we develop with them. If we are unable to attract and retain sufficient marketers and agents to sell our products, our ability to compete and our revenues would suffer.

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We may require additional capital to support our business and sustained future growth which may not be available when needed or may be available only on unfavorable terms.
Our long-term strategic capital requirements will depend on many factors including the accumulated statutory earnings of our life insurance subsidiaries and the relationship between the statutory capital and surplus of our life insurance subsidiaries and various elements of required capital. For the purpose of supporting long-term capital requirements, we may need to increase or maintain the statutory capital and surplus of our life insurance subsidiaries through additional financings, which could include debt, equity, financing arrangements and/or other surplus relief transactions. Adverse market conditions have affected and continue to affect the availability and cost of capital. Such financings, if available at all, may be available only on terms that are not favorable to us. If we cannot maintain adequate capital, we may be required to limit growth in sales of new annuity products, and such action could adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Changes in state and federal regulation may affect our profitability.
We are subject to regulation under applicable insurance statutes, including insurance holding company statutes, in the various states in which our life insurance subsidiaries transact business. Our life insurance subsidiaries are domiciled in New York and Iowa. We are currently licensed to sell our products in 50 states and the District of Columbia. Insurance regulation is intended to provide safeguards for policyholders rather than to protect shareholders of insurance companies or their holding companies. As increased scrutiny has been placed upon the insurance regulatory framework, a number of state legislatures have considered or enacted legislative proposals that alter, and in many cases increase, state authority to regulate insurance companies and holding company systems.
Regulators oversee matters relating to trade practices, policy forms, claims practices, guaranty funds, types and amounts of investments, reserve adequacy, insurer solvency, minimum amounts of capital and surplus, transactions with related parties, changes in control and payment of dividends.
State insurance regulators and the NAIC continually reexamine existing laws and regulations and may impose changes in the future.
Our life insurance subsidiaries are subject to the NAIC's risk-based capital requirements which are intended to be used by insurance regulators as an early warning tool to identify deteriorating or weakly capitalized insurance companies for the purpose of initiating regulatory action. Our life insurance subsidiaries also may be required, under solvency or guaranty laws of most states in which they do business, to pay assessments up to certain prescribed limits to fund policyholder losses or liabilities for insolvent insurance companies.
Although the federal government does not directly regulate the insurance business, federal legislation and administrative policies in several areas, including pension regulation, age and sex discrimination, financial services regulation, securities regulation and federal taxation, can significantly affect the insurance business. In addition, legislation has been enacted which could result in the federal government assuming some role in the regulation of the insurance industry.
In July 2010, the Dodd-Frank Act was enacted and signed into law, making extensive changes to the laws regulating the financial services industry. Among other things, the Dodd-Frank Act imposes a comprehensive new regulatory regime on the over-the-counter ("OTC") derivatives marketplace. The derivatives legislation is set forth in Title VII of the Dodd-Frank Act entitled "Wall Street Transparency and Accountability" (the "Derivatives Title"). With limited exceptions, the provisions of the Derivatives Title become effective on the later of 360 days following enactment and, to the extent a provision requires rulemaking, not less than 60 days after publication of the final rule. This legislation subjects swap dealers and "major swap participants" (as defined in the legislation and further clarified by the rulemaking) to substantial supervision and regulation, including capital standards, margin requirements, business conduct standards, recordkeeping and reporting requirements. It also requires central clearing for certain derivatives transactions that the U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission ("CFTC") determines must be cleared and are accepted for clearing by a "derivatives clearing organization" (subject to certain exceptions) and provides the CFTC with authority to impose position limits across markets. Many key concepts, definitions, processes and issues under the Derivatives Title have been left to the relevant regulators to address and many of these regulations have yet to be proposed. Although it is not possible at this time to assess the impact of the Dodd-Frank Act and any future regulations implementing the new legislation, the Dodd-Frank Act and any such regulations may subject us to additional restrictions on our hedging positions which may have an adverse effect on our ability to hedge risks associated with our business, including our fixed index annuity business, or on the cost of our hedging activity.
The Dodd-Frank Act also created a Financial Stability and Oversight Council. The Council may designate by a 2/3 vote whether certain insurance companies and insurance holding companies pose a grave threat to the financial stability of the United States, in which case such companies would become subject to prudential regulation by the Board of Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve (the "Federal Reserve Board") (including capital requirements, leverage limits, liquidity requirements and examinations). The Federal Reserve Board may limit such company's ability to enter into merger transactions, restrict its ability to offer financial products, require it to terminate one or more activities, or impose conditions on the manner in which it conducts activities. The Dodd-Frank Act also established a Federal Insurance Office under the U.S. Treasury Department to monitor all aspects of the insurance industry and of lines of business other than certain health insurance, certain long-term care insurance and crop insurance. The director of the Federal Insurance Office has the ability to recommend that an insurance company or an insurance holding company be subject to heightened prudential standards. The Dodd-Frank Act also provides for the pre-emption of state laws in certain instances involving the regulation of reinsurance and other limited insurance matters. The Dodd-Frank Act requires extensive rule-making and other future regulatory action, which in some cases will take a period of years to implement. It is not possible at this time to assess the impact on our business of the establishment of the Federal Insurance Office and the Financial Stability and Oversight Council. However, the regulatory framework at the state and federal level applicable to our insurance products is evolving. The changing regulatory framework could affect the design of such products and our ability to sell certain products. Any changes in these laws and regulations could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

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Changes in federal income taxation laws, including any reduction in individual income tax rates, may affect sales of our products and profitability.
The annuity and life insurance products that we market generally provide the policyholder with certain federal income tax advantages. For example, federal income taxation on any increases in non-qualified annuity contract values (i.e. the "inside build-up") is deferred until it is received by the policyholder. With other savings investments, such as certificates of deposit and taxable bonds, the increase in value is generally taxed each year as it is realized. Additionally, life insurance death benefits are generally exempt from income tax.
From time to time, various tax law changes have been proposed that could have an adverse effect on our business, including the elimination of all or a portion of the income tax advantages described above for annuities and life insurance. If legislation were enacted to eliminate all or a portion of the tax deferral for annuities, such a change would have an adverse effect on our ability to sell non-qualified annuities. Non-qualified annuities are annuities that are not sold to a qualified retirement plan.
Beginning in 2013, distributions from non-qualified annuity policies will be considered "investment income" for purposes of the newly enacted Medicare tax on investment income contained in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. As a result, in certain circumstances a 3.8% tax (“Medicare Tax”) may be applied to some or all of the taxable portion of distributions from non-qualified annuities to individuals whose income exceeds certain threshold amounts. This new tax may have an adverse effect on our ability to sell non-qualified annuities to individuals whose income exceeds these threshold amounts and could accelerate withdrawals due to additional tax. The constitutionality of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 is currently the subject of multiple litigation actions initiated by various state attorneys general, and the Act is also the subject of several proposals in the US Congress for amendment and/or repeal. The outcome of such litigation and legislative action as it relates to the 3.8% Medicare tax is unknown at this time.
We face risks relating to litigation, including the costs of such litigation, management distraction and the potential for damage awards, which may adversely impact our business.
We are occasionally involved in litigation, both as a defendant and as a plaintiff. In addition, state regulatory bodies, such as state insurance departments, the SEC, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. ("FINRA"), the Department of Labor and other regulatory bodies regularly make inquiries and conduct examinations or investigations concerning our compliance with, among other things, insurance laws, securities laws, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended, and laws governing the activities of broker-dealers. Companies in the life insurance and annuity business have faced litigation, including class action lawsuits, alleging improper product design, improper sales practices and similar claims. We are currently a defendant in a purported class action lawsuit involving allegations of improper sales practices. The plaintiffs in this lawsuit are seeking returns of premiums and other compensatory and punitive damages.
A downgrade in our credit or financial strength ratings may increase our future cost of capital and may reduce new sales, adversely affect relationships with distributors and increase policy surrenders and withdrawals.
Currently, our senior unsecured indebtedness carries a "bbb-" rating from A.M. Best Company and a "BB+" rating from Standard & Poor's. Our ability to maintain such ratings is dependent upon the results of operations of our subsidiaries and our financial strength. If we fail to preserve the strength of our balance sheet and to maintain a capital structure that rating agencies deem suitable, it could result in a downgrade of the ratings applicable to our senior unsecured indebtedness. A downgrade would likely reduce the fair value of the common stock and may increase our future cost of capital.
Financial strength ratings are important factors in establishing the competitive position of life insurance and annuity companies. In recent years, the market for annuities has been dominated by those insurers with the highest ratings. A ratings downgrade, or the potential for a ratings downgrade, could have a number of adverse effects on our business. For example, distributors and sales agents for life insurance and annuity products use the ratings as one factor in determining which insurer's annuities to market. A ratings downgrade could cause those distributors and agents to seek alternative carriers. In addition, a ratings downgrade could materially increase the number of policy or contract surrenders we experience, as well as our ability to obtain reinsurance or obtain reasonable pricing on reinsurance.
Financial strength ratings are measures of an insurance company's ability to meet contractholder and policyholder obligations and generally involve quantitative and qualitative evaluations by rating agencies of a company's financial condition and operating performance. Generally, rating agencies base their ratings upon information furnished to them by the insurer and upon their own investigations, studies and assumptions. Ratings are based upon factors of concern to agents, policyholders and intermediaries and are not directed toward the protection of investors and are not recommendations to buy, sell or hold securities.

Item 1B.    Unresolved Staff Comments
None.

Item 2.    Properties
We lease commercial office space in one building in West Des Moines, Iowa, for our principal offices under an operating lease that expires on November 21, 2021. We also lease our office in Pell City, Alabama, pursuant to an operating lease that expires on December 31, 2012. We are fully utilizing these facilities and believe both locations to be sufficient to house our operations for the foreseeable future.


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Item 3.    Legal Proceedings

See Note 13 of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.

Item 4.    Reserved

PART II

Item 5.    Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Our common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange ("NYSE") under the symbol AEL. The following table sets forth the high and low prices of our common stock as quoted on the NYSE.
 
 
High
 
Low
2011
 
 
 
 
First Quarter
 
$13.93
 
$11.27
Second Quarter
 
$13.53
 
$11.91
Third Quarter
 
$13.22
 
$8.01
Fourth Quarter
 
$11.82
 
$8.05
2010
 
 
 
 
First Quarter
 
$10.99
 
$6.65
Second Quarter
 
$11.64
 
$8.53
Third Quarter
 
$11.19
 
$9.19
Fourth Quarter
 
$13.01
 
$10.11
As of February 22, 2012, there were approximately 10,400 holders of our common stock. In 2011 and 2010, we paid an annual cash dividend of $0.12 and $0.10, respectively, per share on our common stock. We intend to continue to pay an annual cash dividend on such shares so long as we have sufficient capital and/or future earnings to do so. However, we anticipate retaining most of our future earnings, if any, for use in our operations and the expansion of our business. Any further determination as to dividend policy will be made by our board of directors and will depend on a number of factors, including our future earnings, capital requirements, financial condition and future prospects and such other factors as our board of directors may deem relevant.
Since we are a holding company, our ability to pay cash dividends depends in large measure on our subsidiaries' ability to make distributions of cash or property to us. Iowa insurance laws restrict the amount of distributions American Equity Life can pay to us without the approval of the Iowa Insurance Commissioner. See Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations and Note 12 of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements, which are incorporated by reference in this Item 5.
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
The following table sets forth issuer purchases of equity securities for the quarter ended December 31, 2011.
Period
 
Total Number of Shares Purchased
 
Average Price Paid per Share
 
Total Number of Shares Purchased as Part of Publicly Announced Plans or Programs
 
Maximum Number (or Approximate Dollar Value) of Shares that May Yet Be Purchased Under the Plans or Programs
October 1, 2011 through October 31, 2011
 

 

 

 

November 1, 2011 through November 30, 2011
 

 

 

 
10,000,000

December 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011
 
81,745

 
$
10.39

 
81,745

 
10,000,000

 
 
81,745

 
$
10.39

 
81,745

 
 
We have a Rabbi Trust, the NMO Deferred Compensation Trust, which has purchased and holds our common shares to fund the amount of shares earned and vested by our agents under the NMO Deferred Compensation Plan. At December 31, 2011, all shares earned and vested by agents have been purchased and contributed to the Rabbi Trust.
In addition, in November 2011, our board of directors approved a share repurchase program authorizing us to repurchase up to 10,000,000 shares of our common stock. As of December 31, 2011, no shares had been repurchased under this program.

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Item 6.    Selected Consolidated Financial Data
The summary consolidated financial and other data should be read in conjunction with Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations and our audited consolidated financial statements and related notes appearing elsewhere in this report. The results for past periods are not necessarily indicative of results that may be expected for future periods.
 
 
Year ended December 31,
 
 
2011
 
2010
 
2009
 
2008
 
2007
 
 
(Dollars in thousands, except per share data)
Consolidated Statements of Operations Data:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Revenues
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Annuity product charges
 
$
76,189

 
$
69,075

 
$
63,358

 
$
52,671

 
$
45,828

Net investment income
 
1,218,780

 
1,036,106

 
932,172

 
822,077

 
719,916

Change in fair value of derivatives
 
(114,728
)
 
168,862

 
216,896

 
(372,009
)
 
(59,985
)
Net realized gains on investments, excluding other than temporary impairment ("OTTI") losses
 
(18,641
)
 
23,726

 
51,279

 
5,555

 
501

Net OTTI losses recognized in operations
 
(33,976
)
 
(23,867
)
 
(86,771
)
 
(192,648
)
 
(4,383
)
Total revenues
 
1,139,775

 
1,285,592

 
1,188,913

 
337,904

 
714,500

Benefits and expenses
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Interest sensitive and index product benefits
 
775,757

 
733,218

 
347,883

 
205,131

 
560,209

Change in fair value of embedded derivatives
 
(105,194
)
 
130,950

 
529,508

 
(210,753
)
 
(67,902
)
Amortization of deferred sales inducements and policy acquisition costs
 
215,259

 
192,261

 
128,008

 
157,443

 
68,038

Interest expense on notes payable and subordinated debentures
 
45,610

 
37,031

 
30,672

 
39,218

 
43,436

Interest expense on amounts due under repurchase agreements
 
30

 

 
534

 
8,207

 
15,926

Other operating costs and expenses
 
67,529

 
114,615

 
57,255

 
52,633

 
48,230

Total benefits and expenses
 
1,006,861

 
1,220,326

 
1,102,749

 
260,851

 
676,356

Income before income taxes
 
132,914

 
65,266

 
86,164

 
77,053

 
38,144

Income tax expense
 
46,666

 
22,333

 
17,634

 
61,106

 
11,914

Net income
 
86,248

 
42,933

 
68,530

 
15,947

 
26,230

Per Share Data:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Earnings per common share
 
$
1.45

 
$
0.73

 
$
1.22

 
$
0.30

 
$
0.46

Earnings per common share—assuming dilution
 
1.37

 
0.68

 
1.18

 
0.30

 
0.46

Dividends declared per common share
 
0.12

 
0.10

 
0.08

 
0.07

 
0.06

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Non-GAAP Financial Measure (a):
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Reconciliation of net income to operating income:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Net income
 
$
86,248

 
$
42,933

 
$
68,530

 
$
15,947

 
$
26,229

Net realized gains and net OTTI losses on investments, net of offsets
 
18,354

 
379

 
(1,339
)
 
92,524

 
1,688

Net effect of derivatives, embedded derivatives and other index annuity, net of offsets
 
29,051

 
38,167

 
29,952

 
(31,038
)
 
33,615

Convertible debt extinguishment, net of income taxes
 

 
171

 
687

 
(5,702
)
 

Effect of counterparty default, net of offsets
 

 

 
3,948

 
741

 

Litigation settlement, net of offsets
 

 
27,297

 

 

 

Operating income
 
$
133,653

 
$
108,947

 
$
101,778

 
$
72,472

 
$
61,532

Operating income per common share
 
$
2.25

 
$
1.86

 
$
1.81

 
$
1.35

 
$
1.08

Operating income per common share—assuming dilution
 
2.12

 
1.70

 
1.75

 
1.30

 
1.05


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As of and for the Year Ended December 31,
 
 
2011
 
2010
 
2009
 
2008
 
2007
 
 
(Dollars in thousands, except per share data)
Consolidated Balance Sheet Data:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Total investments
 
$
24,383,451

 
$
19,816,931

 
$
15,374,110

 
$
12,719,605

 
$
12,610,895

Total assets
 
30,874,719

 
26,426,763

 
21,312,004

 
17,081,740

 
16,384,690

Policy benefit reserves
 
28,118,716

 
23,655,807

 
19,336,221

 
15,809,539

 
14,711,780

Notes payable
 
297,608

 
330,835

 
316,468

 
247,750

 
248,968

Subordinated debentures
 
268,593

 
268,435

 
268,347

 
268,209

 
268,330

Accumulated other comprehensive income (loss) ("AOCI")
 
457,229

 
81,820

 
(30,456
)
 
(147,376
)
 
(38,929
)
Total stockholders' equity
 
1,408,679

 
938,047

 
754,623

 
496,844

 
621,324

Other Data:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Life subsidiaries' statutory capital and surplus and asset valuation reserve
 
1,597,355

 
1,456,679

 
1,239,651

 
1,011,682

 
1,013,845

Life subsidiaries' statutory net gain from operations before income taxes and realized capital gains (losses)
 
344,538

 
322,133

 
253,146

 
129,046

 
41,473

Life subsidiaries' statutory net income (loss)
 
167,925

 
172,865

 
116,895

 
(7,073
)
 
17,010

Book value per share (b)
 
$
23.82

 
$
16.07

 
$
13.08

 
$
9.46

 
$
11.11

Book value per share, excluding AOCI (b)
 
16.09

 
14.67

 
13.61

 
12.27

 
11.81

____________________
(a)
In addition to net income, we have consistently utilized operating income, operating income per common share and operating income per common share—assuming dilution, non-GAAP financial measures commonly used in the life insurance industry, as economic measures to evaluate our financial performance. Operating income equals net income adjusted to eliminate the impact of net realized gains on investments including net OTTI losses recognized in operations and related deferred tax asset valuation allowance, fair value changes in derivatives and embedded derivatives, (gain) loss on extinguishment of convertible debt, the counterparty default on expired call options and the net charge to settle a class action lawsuit. Because these items fluctuate from year to year in a manner unrelated to core operations, we believe measures excluding their impact are useful in analyzing operating trends. We believe the combined presentation and evaluation of operating income together with net income, provides information that may enhance an investor's understanding of our underlying results and profitability.
(b)
Book value per share and book value per share excluding AOCI is calculated as total stockholders' equity and total stockholders' equity excluding AOCI divided by the total number of shares of common stock outstanding. AOCI fluctuates from year to year due to unrealized changes in the fair value of available for sale investments. Shares outstanding include shares held by the NMO Deferred Compensation Trust and exclude unallocated shares held by our employee stock ownership plan—see note 11 to our audited consolidated financial statements.

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Item 7.    Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Management's discussion and analysis reviews our consolidated financial position at December 31, 2011 and 2010, and our consolidated results of operations for the three years in the period ended December 31, 2011, and where appropriate, factors that may affect future financial performance. This discussion should be read in conjunction with our audited consolidated financial statements, notes thereto and selected consolidated financial data appearing elsewhere in this report.
Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Information
All statements, trend analyses and other information contained in this report and elsewhere (such as in filings by us with the SEC, press releases, presentations by us or our management or oral statements) relative to markets for our products and trends in our operations or financial results, as well as other statements including words such as "anticipate", "believe", "plan", "estimate", "expect", "intend" and other similar expressions, constitute forward-looking statements. We caution that these statements may and often do vary from actual results and the differences between these statements and actual results can be material. Accordingly, we cannot assure you that actual results will not differ materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. Factors that could contribute to these differences include, among other things:
general economic conditions and other factors, including prevailing interest rate levels and stock and credit market performance which may affect (among other things) our ability to sell our products, our ability to access capital resources and the costs associated therewith, the fair value of our investments, which could result in impairments and other than temporary impairments, and certain liabilities, and the lapse rate and profitability of policies;
customer response to new products and marketing initiatives;
changes in the Federal income tax laws and regulations which may affect the relative income tax advantages of our products;
increasing competition in the sale of annuities;
regulatory changes or actions, including those relating to regulation of financial services affecting (among other things) bank sales and underwriting of insurance products and regulation of the sale, underwriting and pricing of products; and
the risk factors or uncertainties listed from time to time in our filings with the SEC.
For a detailed discussion of these and other factors that might affect our performance, see Item 1A of this report.
Executive Summary
Since our formation in 1995, we have emphasized industry leading customer service to both our distribution force and our policyholders. We believe this to be a major part of our ability to attract production from our independent agent network as well as a low rate of policy surrenders. Excellent customer service teamed with our ability to design innovative insurance products that provide principal protection and tax deferred growth have continued to result in significant sales of our annuity products year over year. In 2011, as we have done the last three years, we achieved the highest sales since our formation, which has driven us to industry leading growth rates and to cash and investments in excess of $24 billion at December 31, 2011, in only 16 years of operations. We have applied a conservative investment strategy to the annuity deposits we continue to manage which has provided reliable returns on our invested assets. Our profitability has also been driven by maintaining an efficient operation.
In 2011, we extinguished $46.3 million principal amount of convertible senior notes that were put to us by the holders at the December 15, 2011 put date using cash on hand. These notes were issued in 2004 and $28.2 million principal amount remains outstanding and callable by us. During 2011, we also obtained a new three year $160 million line of credit facility which remains fully available at December 31, 2011.
Over the past several years we have steadily grown our invested assets, investment spread and operating income (a non-GAAP financial measurement - see Item 6. Selected Consolidated Financial Data) despite the challenging economic conditions and interest rate environment. Our business model contemplates continued growth in invested assets and operating income while maintaining a high quality investment portfolio that will not experience significant losses from impairments of invested assets. Growth in invested assets is predicated on a continuation of our high sales achievements of the last three years while at the same time maintaining a high level of retention of the funds received. The economic and personal investing environments continue to be conducive for high sales levels as retirees and others look to put their money in instruments that will protect their principal and provide them with consistent cash flow sources in their retirement years. We expect to continue to grow our operating income by maintaining a reliable investment spread of 2.90% or more through effective management of our investment portfolio and the cost of money for our annuity business. We are committed to maintaining a high quality investment portfolio with limited exposure to below investment grade securities and other riskier assets.
Overview
We specialize in the sale of individual annuities (primarily deferred annuities) and, to a lesser extent, we also sell life insurance policies. Under U.S. generally accepted accounting principles ("GAAP"), premium collections for deferred annuities are reported as deposit liabilities instead of as revenues. Similarly, cash payments to policyholders are reported as decreases in the liabilities for policyholder account balances and not as expenses. Sources of revenues for products accounted for as deposit liabilities are net investment income, surrender and other charges deducted from the account balances of policyholders, net realized gains (losses) on investments and changes in fair value of derivatives. Components of expenses for products accounted for as deposit liabilities are interest sensitive and index product benefits (primarily interest credited to account balances), changes in fair value of embedded derivatives, amortization of deferred sales inducements and deferred policy acquisition costs, other operating costs and expenses and income taxes.

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Earnings from products accounted for as deposit liabilities are primarily generated from the excess of net investment income earned over the interest credited or the cost of providing index credits to the policyholder, or the "investment spread." Our investment spread is summarized as follows:
 
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
 
2011
 
2010
 
2009
Reported Amounts
 
 
 
 
 
 
Average yield on invested assets
 
5.80%
 
6.06%
 
6.30%
Aggregate cost of money
 
2.77%
 
2.91%
 
3.26%
Aggregate investment spread
 
3.03%
 
3.15%
 
3.04%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Adjustments
 
 
 
 
 
 
Investment yield - temporary cash investments
 
0.07%
 
0.17%
 
—%
Investment yield - additional prepayment income
 
—%
 
(0.04)%
 
—%
Cost of money benefit from over hedging
 
0.06%
 
0.10%
 
—%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Adjusted Amounts
 
 
 
 
 
 
Average yield on invested assets
 
5.87%
 
6.19%
 
6.30%
Aggregate cost of money
 
2.83%
 
3.01%
 
3.26%
Aggregate investment spread
 
3.04%
 
3.18%
 
3.04%
The cost of money for fixed index annuities and average crediting rates for fixed rate annuities are computed based upon policyholder account balances and do not include the impact of amortization of deferred sales inducements. See Critical Accounting Policies—Deferred Policy Acquisition Costs and Deferred Sales Inducements. With respect to our fixed index annuities, the cost of money includes the average crediting rate on amounts allocated to the fixed rate strategy, expenses we incur to fund the annual index credits and where applicable, minimum guaranteed interest credited. Proceeds received upon expiration or early termination of call options purchased to fund annual index credits are recorded as part of the change in fair value of derivatives, and are largely offset by an expense for interest credited to annuity policyholder account balances. See Critical Accounting Policies—Policy Liabilities for Fixed Index Annuities and Financial Condition—Derivative Instruments.
In response to the continuing low interest rate environment, we implemented reductions of policyholder crediting rates for new annuities and existing annuities in the fourth quarter of 2011. Rates on new sales were reduced 0.40% - 0.50% beginning with applications received after October 7, 2011. Renewal rate adjustments began taking effect on November 15, 2011 and will continue to take effect on the policy anniversary dates over the twelve months following that date. Accordingly, the benefit from the renewal rate reductions did not have a material impact on 2011 spread results. We expect 2012 spread results to reflect the benefit from these reductions to an increasing degree as the year progresses; however the anticipated reductions in cost of money may be offset by continued lower yields available on investments including reinvestment of proceeds from calls of the callable bonds in our investment portfolio.
Our profitability depends in large part upon the amount of assets under our management, investment spreads we earn on our policyholder account balances, our ability to manage our investment portfolio to maximize returns and minimize risks such as interest rate changes and defaults or impairment of investments, our ability to manage interest rates credited to policyholders and costs of the options purchased to fund the annual index credits on our fixed index annuities, our ability to manage the costs of acquiring new business (principally commissions to agents and bonuses credited to policyholders) and our ability to manage our operating expenses.

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Results of Operations for the Three Years Ended December 31, 2011
Annuity deposits by product type collected during 2011, 2010 and 2009, were as follows:
 
 
Year Ended December 31,
Product Type
 
2011
 
2010
 
2009
 
 
(Dollars in thousands)
Fixed index annuities:
 
 
 
 
 
 
Index strategies
 
$
2,839,295

 
$
2,401,891

 
$
1,535,477

Fixed strategy
 
1,377,987

 
1,551,007

 
1,849,833

 
 
4,217,282

 
3,952,898

 
3,385,310

Fixed rate annuities:
 
 
 
 
 
 
Single-year rate guaranteed
 
169,304

 
160,077

 
81,456

Multi-year rate guaranteed
 
397,925

 
384,116

 
178,737

Single premium immediate annuities
 
305,603

 
171,628

 
32,055

 
 
872,832

 
715,821

 
292,248

Total before coinsurance ceded
 
5,090,114

 
4,668,719

 
3,677,558

Coinsurance ceded
 
326,531

 
478,963

 
749,259

Net after coinsurance ceded
 
$
4,763,583

 
$
4,189,756

 
$
2,928,299

Annuity deposits before coinsurance ceded increased 9% during 2011 compared to 2010 and 27% during 2010 compared to 2009. We attribute these increases to factors including the highly competitive rates of our products, our continued strong relationships with our national marketing organizations and field force of licensed, independent insurance agents, the increased attractiveness of safe money products in volatile markets, lower interest rates on competing products such as bank certificates of deposit and product enhancements including a new generation of guaranteed income withdrawal benefit riders. In addition, we continue to benefit from the actions of several significant competitors who have been less aggressive in marketing their products than in prior periods. The extent to which this trend will be sustained in future periods is uncertain.
As reported in our previous filings, we undertook several actions in 2010 and 2009 to manage our statutory capital position to facilitate growth. These actions included a restructuring of commission payments to agents, an amendment to a reinsurance agreement to expand such agreement to cover certain policy forms that were not in existence when the agreement was executed and the entry into two funds withheld coinsurance agreements. We entered into a $50 million "financing" reinsurance transaction in the first quarter of 2011 to help support sales growth in 2011 that provided an initial after tax statutory surplus benefit of $31.8 million. We believe our existing statutory capital and surplus and the statutory surplus we expect to generate internally through statutory earnings will support a higher level of new business growth than in previous years. However, while we have the capital resources to accept more business than was sold in 2011 and 2010, our capacity is not unlimited and sales growth must be matched with available resources to maintain desired financial strength ratings from credit rating agencies and in particular, A.M. Best Company. Should sales growth accelerate to levels that cannot be supported by internal capital generation, we would intend to obtain capital from external sources to facilitate such growth.
Net income increased 101% to $86.2 million in 2011 and decreased 37% to $42.9 million in 2010 from $68.5 million in 2009.
Net income has been positively impacted by the growth in the volume of business in force and the investment spread earned on this business. Average annuity account values outstanding increased 24% for the year ended December 31, 2011 compared to 2010 and 18% for the year ended December 31, 2010 compared to 2009. Our investment spread measured in dollars was $585.9 million, $502.9 million, and $420.2 million for the years ended December 31, 2011, 2010 and 2009.
Our investment spread measured on a percentage basis was 3.03%, 3.15% and 3.04% for the years ended December 31, 2011, 2010 and 2009, respectively. The decrease in investment spread in 2011 resulted from a decline in the average yield in investments, offset in part by a smaller decline in the average cost of money on our fixed index annuities. The increase in investment spread in 2010 resulted from a lower aggregate cost of money on our fixed index annuities, offset in part by a smaller decline in the yield on invested assets. The lower cost of money during 2011 and 2010 was due to lower costs of options purchased to fund the annual index credits on fixed index annuities and lower rates for the fixed rate strategy in fixed index annuities. The 2011 decrease in average yield on invested assets was primarily attributable to lower yields on investments purchased in 2010 and 2011. The 2010 decrease in the average yield on invested assets was primarily attributable to a lag in reinvestment of proceeds from bonds called for redemption during the year into new assets resulting in high levels of low yielding short-term investments and interest earning cash and cash equivalents, as well as lower yields on investments purchased in 2010. We also have experienced a benefit from index annuity hedging that reduced the cost of money by 0.06% and 0.10% for the years ended December 31, 2011 and 2010.

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We periodically revise the key assumptions used in the calculation of amortization of deferred policy acquisition costs and deferred sales inducements retrospectively through an unlocking process when estimates of current or future gross profits/margins (including the impact of realized investment gains and losses) to be realized from a group of products are revised. The impact of unlocking during the year ended December 31, 2011 was a $5.0 million decrease in the amortization of deferred sales inducements and a $9.1 million decrease in amortization of deferred policy acquisition costs and included the impact of account balance true ups as of September 30, 2011 and adjustments to future period assumptions for interest margins and surrenders. The impact of unlocking during the year ended December 31, 2010 was a $0.3 million increase in the amortization of deferred sales inducements and a $1.4 million increase in amortization of deferred policy acquisition costs. There was no unlocking for the year ended December 31, 2009.
During 2011, we discovered a prior period error related to policy benefit reserves for our single premium immediate annuity products. We evaluated the materiality of the error from qualitative and quantitative perspectives and concluded it was not material to any prior periods. The correction of the error in 2011 is not material to the results of operations for the year ended December 31, 2011. Accordingly, we made an adjustment in the first quarter of 2011 which resulted in a decrease of policy benefit reserves and a decrease in interest sensitive and index product benefits of $4.2 million. On an after-tax basis, the adjustment resulted in a $2.7 million increase in net income for the year December 31, 2011.
Operating income, a non-GAAP financial measure (see reconciliation to net income in Item 6. Selected Consolidated Financial Data) increased 23% to $133.7 million in 2011 and increased 7% to $108.9 million in 2010 from $101.8 million in 2009.
In addition to net income, we have consistently utilized operating income, a non-GAAP financial measure commonly used in the life insurance industry, as an economic measure to evaluate our financial performance. Operating income equals net income adjusted to eliminate the impact of net realized gains on investments, including net other than temporary impairment ("OTTI") losses recognized in operations and related deferred tax asset valuation allowance, fair value changes in derivatives and embedded derivatives, (gain) loss on retirement of debt, the Lehman counterparty default on expired call options and the cost to settle a class action lawsuit. Because these items fluctuate from year to year in a manner unrelated to core operations, we believe measures excluding their impact are useful in analyzing operating trends. We believe the combined presentation and evaluation of operating income together with net income, provides information that may enhance an investor's understanding of our underlying results and profitability.
Operating income is not a substitute for net income determined in accordance with GAAP. The adjustments made to derive operating income are important to understanding our overall results from operations and, if evaluated without proper context, operating income possesses material limitations. As an example, we could produce a low level of net income in a given period, despite strong operating performance, if in that period we experience significant net realized losses from our investment portfolio. We could also produce a high level of net income in a given period, despite poor operating performance, if in that period we generate significant net realized gains from our investment portfolio. As an example of another limitation of operating income, it does not include the decrease in cash flows expected to be collected as a result of credit loss OTTI. Therefore, our management and board of directors also separately review net realized investment gains (losses) and analyses of our net investment income, including impacts related to OTTI write-downs, in connection with their review of our investment portfolio. In addition, our management and board of directors examine net income as part of their review of our overall financial results.
Net realized gains (losses) on investments and net impairment losses recognized in operations fluctuate from year to year based upon changes in the interest rate and economic environment and the timing of the sale of investments or the recognition of other than temporary impairments. The amounts disclosed in the reconciliation in Item 6. Selected Consolidated Financial Data are net of related reductions in amortization of deferred sales inducements and deferred policy acquisition costs and income taxes. Net income for 2009 includes a benefit of $11.9 million for the reduction of the deferred tax valuation allowance established in 2008 related to other than temporary impairments of investment securities and capital loss carryforwards.
Amounts attributable to the fair value accounting for fixed index annuity derivatives and embedded derivatives fluctuate from year to year based upon changes in the fair values of call options purchased to fund the annual index credits for fixed index annuities and changes in the interest rates used to discount the embedded derivative liability. The amounts disclosed in the reconciliation in Item 6. Selected Consolidated Financial Data are net of related adjustments to amortization of deferred sales inducements and deferred policy acquisition costs and income taxes. The significant changes in the impact from the item disclosed in the reconciliation in Item 6. Selected Consolidated Financial Data relate primarily to changes in the interest rates used to discount the embedded derivative liabilities.
The litigation settlement amount for 2010 includes a class action settlement benefit to policyholders and attorneys' fees and expenses aggregating $48 million (see Other operating costs and expenses later in this item for additional discussion). The amount disclosed in the reconciliation in Item 6. Selected Consolidated Financial Data is net of related reductions in amortization of deferred sales inducements and deferred policy acquisition costs and income taxes.
Annuity product charges (surrender charges assessed against policy withdrawals and fees deducted from policyholder account balances for living income benefit riders) increased 10% to $76.2 million in 2011 and 9% to $69.1 million in 2010 from $63.4 million in 2009. These increases were primarily attributable to increases in the amount of fees assessed for lifetime income benefit riders which were $26.2 million $13.5 million and $4.5 million for the years ended December 31, 2011, 2010 and 2009, respectively. The increases in these fees are attributable to a larger volume of business in force subject to the fee. See Interest sensitive and index product benefits below for corresponding expense recognized on lifetime income benefit riders. Withdrawals from annuity and single premium universal life policies subject to surrender charges were $378.9 million, $418.9 million and $432.1 million for the years ended December 31, 2011, 2010 and 2009, respectively. The average surrender charge collected on withdrawals subject to a surrender charge was 13.1%, 13.2% and 13.5% for the years ended December 31, 2011, 2010 and 2009, respectively.

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Net investment income increased 18% to $1,218.8 million in 2011 and 11% to $1,036.1 million in 2010 from $932.2 million in 2009. The increases were principally attributable to the growth in our annuity business and corresponding increases in our invested assets. Average invested assets excluding derivative instruments (on an amortized cost basis) increased 23% to $21.0 billion in 2011 and 15% to $17.1 billion in 2010 compared to $14.8 billion in 2009. The average yield earned on average invested assets was 5.80%, 6.06% and 6.30% for 2011, 2010 and 2009, respectively. The decrease in yield earned on average invested assets in 2011 and 2010 was primarily attributable to lower yields on investments purchased in those periods. In addition, net investment income and average yield were negatively impacted by a lag in reinvestment of proceeds from bonds called for redemption during 2011 and 2010 into new assets causing excess liquidity. Based on yields received for purchases of fixed maturity securities in 2011 and 2010, we estimate that approximately $15.8 million and $28.0 million in net investment income was foregone during 2011 and 2010, respectively, as a result of the excess liquidity, and the average yield on invested assets would have been 5.87% and 6.23% for 2011 and 2010, respectively, if such income had been earned.
Change in fair value of derivatives (principally call options purchased to fund annual index credits on fixed index annuities) is affected by the performance of the indices upon which our options are based and the aggregate cost of options purchased. The components of change in fair value of derivatives are as follows:
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
2011
 
2010
 
2009
 
(Dollars in thousands)
Call options:
 
 
 
 
 
Gain (loss) on option expiration
$
155,359

 
$
208,881

 
$
(196,000
)
Change in unrealized gain (loss)
(248,941
)
 
(67,078
)
 
415,276

2015 notes hedges
(21,002
)
 
29,595

 

Interest rate swaps
(144
)
 
(2,536
)
 
(2,380
)
 
$
(114,728
)
 
$
168,862

 
$
216,896

The differences between the change in fair value of derivatives between years for call options are primarily due to the performance of the indices upon which our call options are based. A substantial portion of our call options are based upon the S&P 500 Index with the remainder based upon other equity and bond market indices. The range of index appreciation for options expiring is as follows:
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
2011
 
2010
 
2009
S&P 500 Index
 
 
 
 
 
Point-to-point strategy
0.0% - 31.0%
 
1.9% - 68.6%
 
0.0% - 45.1%
Monthly average strategy
0.0% - 22.7%
 
0.4% - 51.2%
 
0.0% - 22.9%
Monthly point-to-point strategy
0.0% - 16.5%
 
0.0% - 23.7%
 
0.0% - 9.9%
Fixed income (bond index) strategies
1.4% - 17.9%
 
0.0% - 13.5%
 
0.0% - 13.8%
Actual amounts credited to policyholder account balances may be less than the index appreciation due to contractual features in the fixed index annuity policies (caps, participation rates, and asset fees) which allow us to manage the cost of the options purchased to fund the annual index credits. The change in fair value of derivatives is also influenced by the aggregate costs of options purchased. The aggregate cost of options has increased primarily due to an increased amount of fixed index annuities in force. The aggregate cost of options is also influenced by the amount of policyholder funds allocated to the various indices and market volatility which affects option pricing. Costs for options purchased during the year ended December 31, 2011 and 2010 decreased compared to prior years due to lower volatility in equity markets and adjustments to caps, participation rates, and asset fees.
Concurrently with the issuance of the 2015 notes, we entered into hedge transactions (the “2015 notes hedges”) to provide the cash needed to meet our cash obligations in excess of the principal amount of the 2015 notes upon conversion of the 2015 notes. The fair value of the 2015 notes hedges changes based upon changes in the price of our common stock interest rates, stock price volatility, dividend yield and the time to expiration of the 2015 notes hedges. Similarly, the fair value of the conversion option obligation to the holders of the 2015 notes changes based upon these same factors and the conversion option obligation is accounted for as an embedded derivative liability with changes in fair value reported in the Change in fair value of embedded derivatives. The amount for the change in fair value of the 2015 notes hedges equals the amount for the change in the related embedded derivative liabilities and there is an offsetting expense in the change in fair value of embedded derivatives. See note 9 to our audited consolidated financial statements for a discussion of the 2015 notes hedges.

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Net realized gains (losses) on investments, excluding OTTI losses include gains and losses on the sale of securities and impairment losses on mortgage loans on real estate which fluctuate from year to year due to changes in the interest rate and economic environment and the timing of the sale of investments. The components of net realized gains (losses) on investments are set forth in the table that follows:
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
2011
 
2010
 
2009
 
(Dollars in thousands)
Available for sale fixed maturity securities:
 
 
 
 
 
Gross realized gains
$
12,614

 
$
27,755

 
$
54,401

Gross realized losses
(1,423
)
 
(2,575
)
 
(2,162
)
 
11,191

 
25,180

 
52,239

Equity securities:
 
 
 
 
 
Gross realized gains
966

 
14,384

 
5,620

Gross realized losses

 
(71
)
 
(96
)
 
966

 
14,313

 
5,524

Mortgage loans on real estate:
 
 
 
 
 
Increase in allowance for credit losses
(30,770
)
 
(15,225
)
 
(6,484
)
Other investments:
 
 
 
 
 
Gain on sale of real estate
377

 

 

Impairment losses
(405
)
 
(542
)
 

 
(28
)
 
(542
)
 

 
$
(18,641
)
 
$
23,726

 
$
51,279

Gross realized gains were realized due to tax planning strategies to generate taxable capital gains that will permit deductions of capital losses for income tax purposes. Gross realized losses primarily relate to securities that experienced credit events resulting in the decision to sell the securities at a loss. See note 4 to our audited consolidated financial statements for additional discussion of allowance for credit losses recognized on mortgage loans on real estate.
Net OTTI losses recognized in operations increased to $34.0 million in 2011 and decreased to $23.9 million in 2010 from $86.8 million in 2009. The impairments recognized in 2011 were primarily all on residential mortgage backed securities and were principally due to changes of assumptions regarding loss severity of a number of securities we hold which affected our ongoing analysis of expected cash flow projections. See Financial Condition—Investments for additional discussion of write downs of securities for other than temporary impairments.
Interest sensitive and index product benefits increased 6% to $775.8 million in 2011 and 111% to $733.2 million in 2010 from $347.9 million in 2009. The components of interest credited to account balances are summarized as follows:
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
2011
 
2010
 
2009
 
(Dollars in thousands)
Index credits on index policies
$
448,248

 
$
454,660

 
$
94,601

Interest credited (including changes in minimum guaranteed interest for fixed index annuities)
302,691

 
265,539

 
249,015

Living income benefit rider
24,818

 
13,019

 
4,267

 
$
775,757

 
$
733,218

 
$
347,883

The changes in index credits were attributable to changes in the appreciation of the underlying indices (see discussion above under Change in fair value of derivatives) and the amount of funds allocated by policyholders to the respective index options. Total proceeds received upon expiration of the call options purchased to fund the annual index credits were $454.2 million, $438.4 million and $82.2 million for the years ended December 31, 2011, 2010 and 2009, respectively. The increases in interest credited for 2011 and 2010 were due to an increase in the average amount of annuity liabilities outstanding receiving a fixed rate of interest. The average amount of annuity liabilities outstanding (net of annuity liabilities ceded under coinsurance agreements) increased 24% to $22.4 billion in 2011 and 18% to $18.1 billion in 2010 from $15.4 billion in 2009.

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Amortization of deferred sales inducements increased 20% to $71.8 million in 2011 and 50% to $59.9 million in 2010 from $40.0 million in 2009. In general, amortization of deferred sales inducements has been increasing each year due to growth in our annuity business and the deferral of sales inducements incurred with respect to sales of premium bonus annuity products. Bonus products represented 95%, 95% and 94% of our total annuity deposits during 2011, 2010 and 2009, respectively. The anticipated increase in amortization from these factors has been affected by amortization associated with fair value accounting for derivatives and embedded derivatives utilized in our fixed index annuity business, amortization associated with the net realized gains (losses) on investments and net OTTI losses recognized in operations and, in 2010, amortization associated with the litigation settlement. See Net Income above for discussion of the impact of unlocking on amortization of deferred sales inducements for the years ended December 31, 2011, 2010 and 2009, respectively.
Fair value accounting for derivatives and embedded derivatives utilized in our fixed index annuity business creates differences in the recognition of revenues and expenses from derivative instruments including the embedded derivative liabilities in our fixed index annuity contracts. The change in fair value of the embedded derivatives will not correspond to the change in fair value of the derivatives (purchased call options) because the purchased call options are one-year options while the options valued in the fair value of embedded derivatives cover the expected lives of the contracts which typically exceed ten years. The gross profit adjustments resulting from fair value accounting for derivatives and embedded derivatives utilized in our fixed index annuity business decreased amortization by $35.5 million, $39.2 million and $29.2 million in 2011, 2010 and 2009, respectively. The gross profit adjustments from net realized gains (losses) on investments and net OTTI losses recognized in operations increased (decreased) amortization by $(9.7) million, $0.5 million and ($6.8) million in 2011, 2010 and 2009, respectively. The gross profit adjustments from the litigation settlement decreased amortization in 2010 by $1.3 million. Excluding the amortization amounts and unlocking effects attributable to fair value accounting for derivatives and embedded derivatives, realized gains (losses) on investments, net OTTI losses recognized in operations and the litigation settlement, amortization would have been $116.9 million (includes a reduction of $7.3 million due to unlocking), $99.9 million and $76.0 million for 2011, 2010 and 2009, respectively. See Critical Accounting Policies - Deferred Policy Acquisition Costs and Deferred Sales Inducements.
Change in fair value of embedded derivatives was a decrease of $105.2 million during 2011, an increase of $131.0 million in 2010 and an increase of $529.5 million in 2009. The 2011 and 2010 changes include a decrease of $21.0 million and an increase of $29.6 million, respectively, in the fair value of the 2015 notes embedded conversion derivative. As discussed previously, these amounts were offset by a comparable decrease or increase in the fair value of the 2015 notes hedges. The remainder of the 2011 decrease and the 2010 and 2009 increases relate to the fixed index annuity embedded derivatives and resulted from (i) changes in the expected index credits on the next policy anniversary dates, which are related to the change in fair value of the call options acquired to fund these index credits discussed above in change in fair value of derivatives; (ii) changes in discount rates used in estimating our liability for policy growth; and (iii) the growth in the host component of the policy liability. See Critical Accounting Policies - Policy Liabilities for Fixed Index Annuities. The primary reason for the decrease in the change in fair value of embedded derivatives in 2011 was a decrease in the expected index credits on the next policy anniversary dates which is correlated with the change in fair value of call options acquired to fund those index credits, offset by decreases in the discount rates used in estimating the liability for policy growth. The primary reason for the increase in the change in fair value of fixed index annuity embedded derivatives in 2010 was decreases in the discount rates used in estimating our liability for policy growth offset in part by decreases in the expected index credits which correlated with the decrease in the change in fair value of derivatives for 2010 discussed above. The primary reasons for the significant increase in the change in fair value of fixed index annuity embedded derivatives in 2009 were decreases in the discount rates used in estimating our liability for policy growth and increases in the expected index credits which correlated with the increase in the change in fair value of derivatives for 2009 discussed above.
Interest expense on notes payable increased 43% to $31.6 million in 2011 and 49% to $22.1 million in 2010 from $14.9 million in 2009. The 2011 increase was primarily due the September 2010 issuance of $200 million principal amount of 3.50% convertible senior notes. The 2010 increase was primarily due to the December 2009 issuance of an additional $52.2 million of 5.25% convertible senior notes and a higher effective rate of interest on $63.6 million principal amount of 5.25% convertible senior notes that were issued in December 2009 in exchange for the same principal amount of another issue of 5.25% convertible senior notes. The 2010 increase was also due to additional interest associated with the September 2010 issuance noted above. The 2010 increase in interest expense from the convertible notes was partially offset by a decrease in interest expense on borrowings under our revolving line of credit with banks. The weighted average interest rates were 1.10% and 1.49% and the average borrowings outstanding were $108.5 million and $113.3 million for the years ended December 31, 2010 and 2009, respectively. We had no borrowings on the revolving line of credit during the year ended December 31, 2011. See note 9 to our audited consolidated financial statements.
Interest expense on subordinated debentures decreased 6% to $14.0 million in 2011 and 6% to $14.9 million in 2010 from $15.8 million in 2009. These decreases were primarily due to decreases in the weighted average interest rates on the outstanding subordinated debentures which were 5.11%, 5.47% and 5.82% for 2011, 2010 and 2009, respectively. The weighted average interest rates have decreased because $170 million principal amount of the subordinated debentures have a floating rate of interest based upon the three month London Interbank Offered Rate plus an applicable margin. See Financial Condition—Liabilities.
Amortization of deferred policy acquisition costs increased 5% to $143.5 million in 2011 and 55% to $136.4 million in 2010 from $88.0 million in 2009. In general, amortization of deferred policy acquisition costs has been increasing each year due to the growth in our annuity business and the deferral of policy acquisition costs incurred with respect to sales of annuity products. The anticipated increase in amortization from these factors has been affected by amortization associated with fair value accounting for derivatives and embedded derivatives utilized in our fixed index annuity business, amortization associated with net realized gains (losses) on investments and net OTTI losses recognized in operations and, in 2010, the amortization associated with the litigation settlement. See Net Income above for discussion of the impact of unlocking on amortization of deferred policy acquisition costs for the years ended December 31, 2011, 2010 and 2009, respectively.

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As discussed above, fair value accounting for derivatives and embedded derivatives utilized in our fixed index annuity business creates differences in the recognition of revenues and expenses from derivative instruments including the embedded derivative liabilities in our fixed index annuity contracts. The gross profit adjustments resulting from fair value accounting for derivatives and embedded derivatives utilized in our fixed index annuity business decreased amortization by $45.4 million, $48.3 million and $60.6 million in 2011, 2010 and 2009, respectively. The gross profit adjustments from net realized gains on investments and net OTTI losses recognized in operations decreased amortization by $14.5 million, $0.0 million and $12.2 million in 2011, 2010 and 2009, respectively. The gross profit adjustments from the litigation settlement decreased amortization in 2010 by $4.4 million. Excluding the amortization amounts and unlocking effects attributable to fair value accounting for derivatives and embedded derivatives, realized gains on investments and net OTTI losses recognized in operations, and the litigation settlement, amortization would have been $203.3 million (includes a reduction of $12.1 million due to unlocking), $189.1 million and $160.9 million for 2011, 2010 and 2009, respectively. See Critical Accounting Policies - Deferred Policy Acquisition Costs and Deferred Sales Inducements.
Other operating costs and expenses decreased 41% to $67.5 million in 2011 and increased 100% to $114.6 million in 2010 from $57.3 million in 2009. The decrease in operating expenses in 2011 and the increase in 2010 were principally attributable to a litigation settlement accrual of $48 million which was recorded in the fourth quarter of 2010 related to the settlement of a class action lawsuit.
Other operating costs and expenses net of litigation settlements are primarily affected by increases in salaries and benefits, marketing expenses and general operating expenses due to the growth of our business as well as the fluctuation in legal expense for the cost of defense of on-going litigation. Other operating costs and expenses excluding the litigation settlement increased 1% to $67.5 million in 2011 and increased 16% to $66.6 million in 2010 from $57.3 million in 2009.
Legal expenses decreased $4.8 million in 2011 compared to 2010 and increased $2.2 million in 2010 compared to 2009. An elevated level of legal expense was incurred in 2010 and 2009 related to the defense of the class action lawsuit which had moved into the trial phase during 2010 and ended with the settlement agreement referred to above. Salaries and benefits increased $2.5 million in 2011 compared to 2010 and $6.8 million in 2010 compared to 2009. The increase in salaries and benefits for 2011 and 2010 is due to an increased number of employees due to growth in our business. During 2010, we increased the level of incentive bonuses for employees including the implementation of a short-term incentive plan for senior management.
Income tax expense increased 109% to $46.7 million in 2011 and 27% to $22.3 million in 2010 from $17.6 million in 2009. The increase in 2011 was primarily related to the increase in income before income taxes. The increase in 2010 was primarily due to the reduction of income tax expense in 2009 attributable to an $11.9 million decrease in the valuation allowance established in 2008 for deferred income tax assets for other than temporary impairments of investment securities and capital loss carryforwards. Excluding the effect of this item, income tax expense in 2010 would have decreased from 2009 primarily due to a decrease in income before income taxes. The effective income tax rates were 35.1%, 34.2% and 20.5% for 2011, 2010 and 2009, respectively.
Income tax expense and the resulting effective tax rate are based upon two components of income before income taxes ("pretax income") that are taxed at different tax rates. Life insurance income is generally taxed at an effective rate of approximately 35.6% reflecting the absence of state income taxes for substantially all of the states that the life insurance subsidiaries do business in. The income (loss) for the parent company and other non-life insurance subsidiaries is generally taxed at an effective tax rate of 41.5% reflecting the combined federal / state income tax rates. The effective tax rates resulting from the combination of the income tax provisions for the life / non-life sources of income (loss) vary from year to year based primarily on the relative size of pretax income (loss) from the two sources. The effective tax rate for 2009 was substantially less than the applicable statutory federal income tax rate of 35% primarily due to the decrease in the valuation allowance as discussed above. Excluding this item, the effective tax rate for 2009 would have been 34.3%

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Table of Contents

Financial Condition
Investments
Our investment strategy is to maintain a predominantly investment grade fixed income portfolio, provide adequate liquidity to meet our cash obligations to policyholders and others and maximize current income and total investment return through active investment management. Consistent with this strategy, our investments principally consist of fixed maturity securities and mortgage loans on real estate.
Insurance statutes regulate the type of investments that our life subsidiaries are permitted to make and limit the amount of funds that may be used for any one type of investment. In light of these statutes and regulations and our business and investment strategy, we generally seek to invest in United States government and government-sponsored agency securities, corporate securities and United States municipalities, states and territories rated investment grade by established nationally recognized statistical rating organizations ("NRSRO's") or in securities of comparable investment quality, if not rated and commercial mortgage loans on real estate.
The composition of our investment portfolio is summarized as follows:
 
December 31,
 
2011
 
2010
 
Carrying
Amount
 
Percent
 
Carrying
Amount
 
Percent
 
(Dollars in thousands)
Fixed maturity securities:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
United States Government full faith and credit
$
4,678

 
%
 
$
4,388

 
%
United States Government sponsored agencies
4,338,895

 
17.8
%
 
3,750,065

 
18.9
%
United States municipalities, states and territories
3,333,383

 
13.7
%
 
2,341,058

 
11.9
%
Foreign Government obligations
72,386

 
0.3
%
 
41,092

 
0.3
%
Corporate securities
10,192,293

 
41.8
%
 
7,433,176

 
37.5
%
Residential mortgage backed securities
2,703,290

 
11.1
%
 
2,878,557

 
14.5
%
Other asset backed securities
463,390

 
1.9
%
 
204,527

 
1.0
%
Total fixed maturity securities
21,108,315

 
86.6
%
 
16,652,863

 
84.1
%
Equity securities
62,845

 
0.2
%
 
65,961

 
0.3
%
Mortgage loans on real estate
2,823,047

 
11.6
%
 
2,598,641

 
13.1
%
Derivative instruments
273,314

 
1.1
%
 
479,786

 
2.4
%
Other investments
115,930

 
0.5
%
 
19,680

 
0.1
%
 
$
24,383,451

 
100.0
%
 
$
19,816,931

 
100.0
%
During 2011 and 2010, we received $3.2 billion and $5.2 billion, respectively, in net redemption proceeds related to calls of our callable United States Government sponsored agency securities, of which $0.2 billion and $1.6 billion, respectively, were classified as held for investment. We reinvested the proceeds from these redemptions primarily in United States Government sponsored agencies, corporate securities and United States municipalities, states, and territories classified as available for sale. At December 31, 2011, 38% of our fixed income securities have call features and 1% ($0.1 billion) were subject to call redemption. Another 22% ($4.3 billion) will become subject to call redemption during 2012.
Fixed Maturity Securities
Our fixed maturity security portfolio is managed to minimize risks such as interest rate changes and defaults or impairments while earning a sufficient and stable return on our investments. Historically, we have had a high percentage of our fixed maturity securities in U.S. Government sponsored agency securities (for the most part Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation and Federal National Mortgage Association). While U.S. Government sponsored agency securities are of high credit quality, the call features have resulted in our excess cash position in 2011 and 2010. These calls resulted from the low interest rate and tight agency spread environment experienced in 2011 and 2010. Since 2007, when we had almost 80% of our fixed maturity portfolio invested in callable agencies, we have reallocated a significant portion of our fixed maturities from the callable agency securities to other highly rated, long-term securities. The largest portion of our fixed maturity securities are now in investment grade (NAIC designation 1 or 2) publicly traded or privately placed corporate securities. We have also built a portfolio of residential mortgage backed securities ("RMBS") that provide our investment portfolio a source of regular cash flow and higher yielding assets than our agency securities. Additionally, in 2009 we began building a portfolio of taxable bonds issued by municipalities, states and territories of the United States that provide us with attractive yields while consistent with our aversion to credit risk.

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Table of Contents

A summary of our fixed maturity securities by NRSRO ratings is as follows:
 
December 31,
 
2011
 
2010
Rating Agency Rating
Carrying
Amount
 
Percent
 
Carrying
Amount
 
Percent
 
(Dollars in thousands)
Aaa/Aa/A
$
14,777,524

 
70.0
%
 
$
11,599,255

 
69.6
%
Baa
4,945,809

 
23.4
%
 
3,725,920

 
22.4
%
Total investment grade
19,723,333

 
93.4
%
 
15,325,175

 
92.0
%
Ba
257,585

 
1.2
%
 
294,200

 
1.8
%
B
169,112

 
0.8
%
 
69,033

 
0.4
%
Caa and lower
858,694

 
4.1
%
 
959,437

 
5.8
%
In or near default
99,591

 
0.5
%
 
5,018

 
%
Total below investment grade
1,384,982

 
6.6
%
 
1,327,688

 
8.0
%
 
$
21,108,315

 
100.0
%
 
$
16,652,863

 
100.0
%
The NAIC's Securities Valuation Office ("SVO") is responsible for the day-to-day credit quality assessment and valuation of securities owned by state regulated insurance companies. Insurance companies report ownership of securities to the SVO when such securities are eligible for regulatory filings. The SVO conducts credit analysis on these securities for the purpose of assigning an NAIC designation and/or unit price. Typically, if a security has been rated by an NRSRO, the SVO utilizes that rating and assigns an NAIC designation based upon the following system:
NAIC Designation
 
NRSRO Equivalent Rating
1
 
Aaa/Aa/A
2
 
Baa
3
 
Ba
4
 
B
5
 
Caa and lower
6
 
In or near default
In November 2011, the NAIC membership approved continuation of a process developed in 2009 to assess non-agency RMBS for the 2011 filing year that does not rely on NRSRO ratings. The NAIC retained the services of PIMCO Advisory to model each non-agency RMBS owned by U.S. insurers at year-end 2011 and 2010. PIMCO Advisory has provided 5 prices for each security for life insurance companies to utilize in determining the NAIC designation for each RMBS based on each insurer's statutory book value price. This process is used to determine the level of RBC requirements for non-agency RMBS.
A summary of our fixed maturity securities by NAIC designation is as follows:
 
 
December 31, 2011
 
December 31, 2010
NAIC
Designation
 
Amortized
Cost
 
Fair Value
 
Carrying
Amount
 
Percentage
of Total
Carrying
Amount
 
Amortized
Cost
 
Fair Value
 
Carrying
Amount
 
Percentage
of Total
Carrying
Amount
 
 
(Dollars in thousands)
 
 
 
(Dollars in thousands)
 
 
1
 
$
14,359,272

 
$
15,486,571

 
$
15,469,765

 
73.3
%
 
$
12,152,552

 
$
12,246,954

 
$
12,262,263

 
73.6
%
2
 
4,894,739

 
5,272,759

 
5,272,759

 
25.0
%
 
3,892,680

 
4,012,076

 
4,012,076

 
24.1
%
3
 
335,642

 
315,406

 
331,996

 
1.6
%
 
368,680

 
323,113

 
348,256

 
2.1
%
4
 
26,674

 
23,989

 
23,989

 
0.1
%
 
19,820

 
19,178

 
19,178

 
0.1
%
5
 
4,932

 
5,756

 
5,756

 
%
 
6,089

 
6,262

 
6,262

 
0.1
%
6
 
3,226

 
4,050

 
4,050

 
%
 
4,273

 
4,828

 
4,828

 
%
 
 
$
19,624,485

 
$
21,108,531

 
$
21,108,315

 
100.0
%
 
$
16,444,094

 
$
16,612,411

 
$
16,652,863

 
100.0
%

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Table of Contents

A summary of our RMBS by collateral type and split by NAIC designation, as well as a separate summary of securities for which we have recognized OTTI and those which we have not yet recognized any OTTI is as follows as of December 31, 2011:
Collateral Type
 
Principal
Amount
 
Amortized
Cost
 
Fair Value
 
 
(Dollars in thousands)
OTTI has not been recognized
 
 
 
 
 
 
Government agency
 
$
505,584

 
$
449,720

 
$
547,987

Prime
 
1,177,635

 
1,122,149

 
1,171,413

Alt-A
 
46,456

 
47,148

 
46,490

 
 
$
1,729,675

 
$
1,619,017

 
$
1,765,890

OTTI has been recognized
 
 
 
 
 
 
Prime
 
$
693,276

 
$
616,653

 
$
590,477

Alt-A
 
471,586

 
382,370

 
346,923

 
 
$
1,164,862

 
$
999,023

 
$
937,400

Total by collateral type
 
 
 
 
 
 
Government agency
 
$
505,584

 
$
449,720

 
$
547,987

Prime
 
1,870,911

 
1,738,802

 
1,761,890

Alt-A
 
518,042

 
429,518

 
393,413

 
 
$
2,894,537

 
$
2,618,040

 
$
2,703,290

Total by NAIC designation
 
 
 
 
 
 
1
 
$
2,335,290

 
$
2,133,582

 
$
2,245,314

2
 
422,929

 
366,717

 
340,837

3
 
132,002

 
114,728

 
115,041

6
 
4,316

 
3,013

 
2,098

 
 
$
2,894,537

 
$
2,618,040

 
$
2,703,290

The amortized cost and fair value of fixed maturity securities at December 31, 2011, by contractual maturity are presented in Note 3 to our audited consolidated financial statements in this Form 10-K, which is incorporated by reference in this Item 7.

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Table of Contents

Unrealized Losses
At December 31, 2011 and 2010, the amortized cost and fair value of fixed maturity securities and equity securities that were in an unrealized loss position were as follows:
 
Number of
Securities
 
Amortized
Cost
 
Unrealized
Losses
 
Fair Value
 
(Dollars in thousands)
December 31, 2011
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Fixed maturity securities, available for sale:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
United States municipalities, states and territories
1

 
$
3,545

 
$
(10
)
 
$
3,535

Corporate securities:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Finance, insurance and real estate
52

 
562,449

 
(52,186
)
 
510,263

Manufacturing, construction and mining
32

 
240,637

 
(9,000
)
 
231,637

Utilities and related sectors
28

 
226,551

 
(14,522
)
 
212,029

Wholesale/retail trade
4

 
26,180

 
(1,382
)
 
24,798

Services, media and other
9

 
47,937

 
(3,144
)
 
44,793

Residential mortgage backed securities
95

 
1,077,045

 
(72,081
)
 
1,004,964

Other asset backed securities
17

 
136,703

 
(5,611
)
 
131,092

 
238

 
$
2,321,047

 
$
(157,936
)
 
$
2,163,111

Fixed maturity securities, held for investment:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Corporate security:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Finance, insurance and real estate
1

 
75,932

 
(16,590
)
 
59,342

 


 


 


 


Equity securities, available for sale:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Finance, insurance and real estate
7

 
$
28,123

 
$
(4,345
)
 
$
23,778

December 31, 2010
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Fixed maturity securities, available for sale:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
United States Government full faith and credit
2

 
$
566

 
$
(18
)
 
$
548

United States Government sponsored agencies
1

 
111,747

 
(1,646
)
 
110,101

United States municipalities, states and territories
289

 
1,571,263

 
(53,384
)
 
1,517,879

Corporate securities:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Finance, insurance and real estate
72

 
725,710

 
(40,604
)
 
685,106

Manufacturing, construction and mining
110

 
1,094,516

 
(35,572
)
 
1,058,944

Utilities and related sectors
144

 
980,815

 
(39,182
)
 
941,633

Wholesale/retail trade
25

 
169,125

 
(6,251
)
 
162,874

Services, media and other
17

 
192,151

 
(10,294
)
 
181,857

Residential mortgage backed securities
98

 
1,470,836

 
(108,421
)
 
1,362,415

Other asset backed securities
10

 
87,948

 
(4,937
)
 
83,011

 
768

 
$
6,404,677

 
$
(300,309
)
 
$
6,104,368

Fixed maturity securities, held for investment:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
United States Government sponsored agencies
3

 
$
746,414

 
$
(15,309
)
 
$
731,105

Corporate security:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Finance, insurance and real estate
1

 
75,786

 
(25,143
)
 
50,643

 
4

 
$
822,200

 
$
(40,452
)
 
$
781,748

Equity securities, available for sale:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Finance, insurance and real estate
8

 
$
32,782

 
$
(1,946
)
 
30,836

Unrealized losses decreased $163.8 million from $342.7 million at December 31, 2010 to $178.9 million at December 31, 2011. We decreased unrealized losses by recognizing $33.2 million of credit OTTI losses on residential mortgage backed securities for the year ended December 31, 2011. The remaining decrease in unrealized losses was due to changes in market interest rates on United States Government sponsored agencies and United States municipalities, states and territories and a narrowing of credit spreads in certain sectors of the corporate bond market during the year ended December 31, 2011.

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Table of Contents

The following table sets forth the composition by credit quality (NAIC designation) of fixed maturity securities with gross unrealized losses:
 
Carrying Value of
Securities with
Gross Unrealized
Losses
 
Percent of
Total
 
Gross
Unrealized
Losses
 
Percent of
Total
 
(Dollars in thousands)
December 31, 2011
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1
$
1,229,962

 
54.9
%
 
$
(88,632
)
 
50.8
%
2
825,771

 
36.9
%
 
(56,551
)
 
32.4
%
3
165,902

 
7.4
%
 
(25,402
)
 
14.6
%
4
15,310

 
0.7
%
 
(3,026
)
 
1.7
%
5

 
%
 

 
%
6
2,098

 
0.1
%
 
(915
)
 
0.5
%
 
$
2,239,043

 
100.0
%
 
$
(174,526
)
 
100.0
%
December 31, 2010
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1
$
5,017,596

 
72.4
%
 
$
(186,066
)
 
54.6
%
2
1,619,437

 
23.4
%
 
(102,931
)
 
30.2
%
3
269,555

 
3.9
%
 
(49,764
)
 
14.6
%
4
17,278

 
0.2
%
 
(642
)
 
0.2
%
5

 
%
 

 
%
6
2,702

 
0.1
%
 
(1,358
)
 
0.4
%
 
$
6,926,568

 
100.0
%
 
$
(340,761
)
 
100.0
%
Our investments' gross unrealized losses and fair value, aggregated by investment category and length of time that individual securities (consisting of 246 and 780 securities, respectively) have been in a continuous unrealized loss position, at December 31, 2011 and 2010, along with a description of the factors causing the unrealized losses is presented in Note 3 to our audited consolidated financial statements in this Form 10-K, which is incorporated by reference in this Item 7.

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Table of Contents

At December 31, 2011 and 2010, the amortized cost and fair value of fixed maturity securities and equity securities in an unrealized loss position and the number of months in a continuous unrealized loss position (fixed maturity securities that carry an NRSRO rating of BBB/Baa or higher are considered investment grade) were as follows:
 
Number of
Securities
 
Amortized
Cost
 
Fair Value
 
Gross
Unrealized
Losses
 
(Dollars in thousands)
December 31, 2011
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Fixed maturity securities:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Investment grade:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Less than six months
105

 
$
888,771

 
$
845,654

 
$
(43,117
)
Six months or more and less than twelve months
16

 
133,766

 
121,320

 
(12,446
)
Twelve months or greater
32

 
333,116

 
304,408

 
(28,708
)
Total investment grade
153

 
1,355,653

 
1,271,382

 
(84,271
)
Below investment grade:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Less than six months