Genworth Earnings Decline on Expenses, Higher Benefits

Genworth Financial, a retirement and mortgage insurer, said earnings fell in the first quarter, hurt by higher benefits and expenses.

Genworth said earnings were $324 million, down from $334 million in the year-earlier quarter.

Earnings per share rose slightly to 71 cents from 70 cents as the insurer's number of shares declined from a year ago.

Excluding items, Genworth, which was spun off from General Electric in 2004, earned 75 cents a share, short of expectations. The company was seen reporting earnings of 77 cents a share, based on a consensus estimate compiled by Thomson Financial.

Genworth reaffirmed its guidance that 2007 operating income would be in the range of $3.15 to $3.25 a share.

In aftermarket trading, Genworth's shares fell to $36.24 from their close on the New York Stock Exchange at $36.49. In the last 12 months, the Richmond, Va.-based life insurer's shares rose about 8%, compared to the 13%gain in the Standard & Poor's insurance index.

Genworth, which split itself into two units in January, has said it expects to save $220 million over two years and will funnel about half of that into new investments.