Unum Group : Unum in Solid Financial Position, CEO Watjen Tells Shareholders
05/24/2012| 11:20am US/Eastern
Shareholders re-elect directors, approve the company's executive
compensation and stock incentive plans
In his comments to shareholders at the company's annual meeting today in
Portland, Maine, Unum (NYSE:UNM) CEO Thomas R. Watjen touted the
company's performance despite a very difficult external environment and
said the need for what the company does has never been greater.
"In many respects, our 'playbook' hasn't changed much from last year,"
he said. "We continue to have a focused approach on the business of
providing financial protection, and there's no reason to change that."
In spite of the sluggish employment and interest rate outlook, Watjen
sees solid long-term growth opportunities if the company continues to
maintain discipline and consistently execute its plan.
"The need for financial protection has never been greater than it is
today when so many are living paycheck to paycheck," he added. "We offer
that protection through the workplace, which has consistently proven the
best way to reach those at middle and lower income levels in particular
and protect them against basic financial risks."
Watjen said Unum was in financially sound, manageable businesses that
are capable of producing attractive returns and generating excess
capital. "Over the past four years, we have raised our common dividend
by more than 70 percent and repurchased 20 percent of our stock - and
unmatched record in our sector."
Unum achieved operating earnings per share growth of 9.7 percent and the
company's three- and five-year shareholder returns have outperformed
industry averages. Watjen said he has every reason to believe this
performance is sustainable.
"Like everyone, but particularly those operating in the financial
services sectors, we will continue to be tested," he said. "We are
confident, however, in the direction we have set for the company and our
ability to maintain our momentum - momentum that we never lost in the
financial crisis. In spite of the difficult environment, we believe that
we are well-positioned to continue to create solid relative value for
Executive Vice President and CFO Richard P. McKenney also addressed
shareholders at today's meeting, pointing to the company's significant
earnings growth and its solid financial foundation as evidence that the
focus on profitability and financial flexibility is working.
"Simply put, Unum has outperformed a wide cross-section of peers over
the past five years by consistently executing a strategy focused on
disciplined, profitable growth and prudent capital management," McKenney
He added that the company maintains an unwavering commitment to
underwriting and pricing discipline. "We are pleased to hold leading
market positions, but we don't chase market share at the expense of
profitability. We will continue to focus on generating the type of
profitable growth that has benefited our shareholders over the last
Like Watjen, McKenney pointed to stable and consistent financial results
and improving profitability as keys to Unum's ability to return capital
to its shareholders through both dividend increases and share
"These actions reflect our confidence that the business model that we
have in place will produce steady, consistent results," he said. "As
such, returning capital to our shareholders will continue to be a steady
source of value creation."
Also at today's meeting, Unum shareholders elected four directors to
terms expiring in 2015. They are: Pamela H. Godwin, president of Change
Partners, Inc.; Thomas Kinser, former president and CEO of Blue Cross
Blue Shield of Tennessee; A.S. (Pat) MacMillan, Jr., CEO of Triaxia
Partners, Inc.; and Edward J. Muhl, former national leader of
PriceWaterhouseCoopers' insurance regulatory advisory practice.
Additionally, Unum shareholders voted in favor of the company's
executive compensation plan and stock incentive plan of 2012.
ABOUT UNUM GROUP
is one of the leading providers of financial protection products and
services offered through the workplace in the United States and the
© Business Wire 2012