Principal Financial 3Q net soars on gain from sale

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Financial services company Principal Financial Group Inc. said Thursday that its profit more than doubled in the third quarter, lifted by a large gain from an investment sale.

The Des Moines-based company also reported solid revenue increases from its investment and other financial products.

Net income for the July-through-September period was $179.7 million, or 60 cents per share, compared with $71.9 million, or 23 cents per share, a year earlier. Operating earnings were 45 cents per share, the company said.

Revenue was $2.7 million, up from $2.09 million.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet forecast earnings of 49 cents per share on revenue of $2.15 million.

The difference-maker in the quarter was a $141.2 million net gain from the divestiture of Principal's interest in Catalyst Health Solutions Inc., a pharmacy benefit manager. Principal sold its share after Catalyst's acquisition by SXC Health Solutions Corp., now Catamaran Corp.

The Des Moines-based company said it had strong retirement and investor services sales in the quarter and record assets under management of $392.2 billion, up 22 percent from a year ago.

"With strong sales, net cash flows and record assets under management, we feel well positioned going into 2013," said CEO Larry Zimpleman. "However, we continue to see macroeconomic headwinds, including foreign exchange and low interest rates that will pressure financial performance in the near term."

Principal also said its board declared a quarterly dividend of 21 cents per share for the second straight quarter, payable Dec. 28 to shareholders of record as of Dec. 10. The previous dividend was 18 cents per share.

Shares in the company rose 32 cents to close at $28.29.