Unum Strong, Well-Positioned For Future, CEO Watjen Tells Shareholders

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Unum (NYSE:UNM) is succeeding at providing both valuable financial protection benefits to millions of working people and strong returns to stakeholders in what continues to be a challenging economic environment, according to President and CEO Thomas R. Watjen. Mr. Watjen made his comments to shareholders at the company’s annual meeting Thursday in Portland, Maine.

“We grew the businesses we targeted for growth, generated strong profitability in our core businesses and maintained a solid financial foundation while delivering on our commitments to customers and shareholders,” Mr. Watjen said. “We finished the year well-positioned for the future.”

Unum paid more than $6 billion in benefits in 2012 to help protect the future of workers and their families and helped more than 230,000 individuals return to work and a productive lifestyle.

“The financial protection we provide through the workplace has never been more important than it is today,” he added, noting 40 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck and half of all households couldn’t raise $2,000 within a month if they had to. “When people need them most, benefits such as disability, life, accident and critical illness insurance protect against financial hardships that can derail the stability of individuals and families.”

Executive Vice President and CFO Richard P. McKenney, who also addressed shareholders at today’s meeting, said Unum continues to execute in a sound, sustainable manner that creates steady value, with a total return to shareholders that has significantly outperformed the industry over the past five years. The company repurchased $500 million of its stock in 2012 and increased its dividend by 24 percent. Since 2007, the company has repurchased $2.2 billion in stock and increased its dividend by 73 percent.

He also noted the significance of financial strength ratings upgrades by both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s in 2012.

“The company’s solid earnings growth, increased shareholder returns and significant risk-based capital demonstrate the success of our commitment to a disciplined management and operating approach,” Mr. McKenney said. “Unum has outperformed its peers over the past several years in key industry measures through a focus on operating discipline, which leads to a strong balance sheet and capital position.”  

Unum achieved operating earnings per share growth of 5.7 percent in 2012. The company’s total operating return on equity across all business lines was 12.2 percent.

“Each year brings its own unique challenges and changes, but I’m confident the approach we’ve taken to managing the business can continue to create long-term value for shareholders,” said Mr. McKenney. 

Mr. Watjen added that the company’s success has gone well beyond financial results to include very high customer satisfaction survey results, increased community and social responsibility efforts, and an elevated stature as a leading voice in its industry.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, Unum shareholders voted to re-elect four directors for terms expiring in 2016: E. Michael Caulfield, former president of Mercer Human Resource Consulting; Ronald E. Goldsberry, automotive industry consultant; Kevin T. Kabat, vice chairman and chief executive officer of Fifth Third Bancorp; and Michael J. Passarella, former audit partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

Shareholders also voted in favor of an amended and restated certificate of incorporation to declassify Unum’s board of directors, approved the compensation of the company’s named executive officers, approved the annual incentive plan, and ratified the appointment of Ernst & Young LLP as the company’s independent registered public accounting firm.


Drunk Driving Charge Reinstated By State Supreme Court After Finding That Police Acted Reasonably

The Tennessee Supreme Court has reinstated charges of driving under the influence and violating the open container law against Williamson County resident Mechelle Montgomery in an opinion that restores evidence gained during a search. In February of 2012, two officers with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to the residence of a woman named Corey Brown, who ... (click for more)

State Supreme Court Rules That Employee Does Not Qualify As Whistleblower

The Tennessee Supreme Court has affirmed the dismissal of a whistleblower claim by Charles Haynes, a former employee of Formac Stables, Inc., in Obion County. Mr. Haynes worked as a groom at Formac Stables. In April of 2010, hesuffered an injury to the head when kicked by a Tennessee Walking Horse named “Bruce Pearl.” Mr. Haynes claimed that Formac’s owner refused to allow him ... (click for more)

Hard Freeze Predicted In The Area For Saturday Night

Temperatures are expected to drop Saturday night to 28 degrees or less. Here is the latest report from the National Weather Service:  HARD FREEZE WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM MIDNIGHT EDT /11 PM CDT/ TONIGHT TO 11 AM EDT /10 AM CDT/ SUNDAY... * EVENT... A HARD FREEZE EXPECTED WITH LOWS FROM THE TEENS NORTH TO THE UPPER 20S SOUTH LATE TONIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING. ... (click for more)

Man Charged In Shooting On Sixth Avenue Had Been Shot Himself Last Week; Police Say Incident "Part Of Gang War"

A man charged with attempted first-degree murder on Sixth Avenue Court on Thursday afternoon was shot himself earlier this month. O'Shae Kadaris Smith, 20, of 2114 E. 12th St., is also charged with reckless endangerment, aggravated assault and possessing a firearm during the commission of a crime. He was one of two people shot on Rawlings Street on March 16. Kendre Allen, ... (click for more)

Finley Stadium Needs To Grow Up - And Response

RE:  Finley Stadium Financial Picture Rosy; Beer And Alcohol Sales Approved; AstroTurf Almost Ready and City, County Pitching In $250,000 Each For New Finley Stadium AstroTurf I read a story here five days ago about a rosy future for Finley stadium. It lead me to believe that the stadium was making money and even improvements with donations.  Then we get a short ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Sunday Funnies

They say March roars in like a lion and leaves like a lamb. So as you reach for your lambs-wool sweater on this last Sunday of the month, allow me to lighten up a bit with a new edition of my Sunday Funnies. I have a delightful crowd that keeps me supplied in jokes and these are some of the best that have come my way: A WOMAN'S PERFECT BREAKFAST -- She's sitting at the table ... (click for more)