updated 6/2/2011 7:16:26 AM ET 2011-06-02T11:16:26

EVANSTON, Ill., June 2, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- First quarter 2011 fixed annuity sales posted their first period-to-period increase in two years, rising 6% to $18.9 billion according to the Beacon Research Fixed Annuity Premium Study.1 There was growth in all four product types. Book value annuities advanced 12% to $8.6 billion. Market value-adjusted products (MVAs) were up 7% to $1.4 billion.2 Indexed annuity sales were $7.1 billion (a 0.2% increase), and income annuity results were $1.8 billion (up 0.8%).

On a quarter-to-quarter basis, book value sales rose 42%, while MVAs improved 7%. Indexed and income annuities were down 15% and 7%, respectively. Sales increased 7% in total.

"Fixed rate annuities benefitted from higher rates in first quarter," said Jeremy Alexander, CEO of Beacon Research. "They had a strong rate advantage over CDs in many banks. The steep yield curve made longer term rates particularly attractive and sales moved longer as a result. Indexed annuities apparently lost sales to both fixed rate and variable annuities, while income annuities' sequential decline was partly seasonal."

Western National moved up four notches to claim first quarter sales leadership. New York Life advanced one place to come in second. Allianz took third place, followed by American Equity and Aviva. First quarter results for the top five Study participants were as follows:

  Total Fixed Annuity Sales (in thousands)
   
Western National Life 2,171,845
New York Life 1,894,090
Allianz Life 1,571,950
American Equity Investment Life Insurance Co. 1,341,832
Aviva USA 868,403

American National was the new MVA sales leader. The other top companies by product type were unchanged: book value – Western National, indexed – Allianz, and income – New York Life.

Three of these companies also posted top distribution channel sales. Western National led in the bank channel. New York Life was the leading captive agent and large-regional broker-dealer (B-D) company. Allianz was the top independent producer carrier. Among the other channels, Nationwide was the new wirehouse sales leader. MassMutual and USAA continued as the dominant companies in the independent B-D and direct/third party channels, respectively.

Among the 550 products tracked by the Study, three channel leaders had top five annuities as well. New York Life's Secure Term Fixed Annuity was the new bestseller, and its Lifetime Income Annuity took fourth place. Allianz Life's MasterDex X came in second. Western National rejoined the top five with Flex 7 in fifth place. American Equity's Bonus Gold moved up a notch to come in third.

Rank Company Name Product Name Product Type
       
1 New York Life NYL Secure Term Fixed Annuity Book Value
2 Allianz Life MasterDex X Indexed
3 American Equity Retirement Gold Indexed
4 New York Life NYL Lifetime Income Annuity Income
5 Western National Flex 7 Book Value

Western National's Flex 7 was the new bank channel bestseller, and Nationwide's BOA Platinum Edge was the new leading product in wirehouses. The remaining channel leaders were continued top performers.

Channel Company Product Product Type
       
Banks and S&Ls Western National Flex 7 Book Value
       
Captive Agents New York Life NYL Lifetime Income Annuity Income
       
Direct/Third Party USAA  Flexible Retirement Annuity Book Value
       
Independent Broker-Dealers MassMutual  RetireEase Income
       
Independent Producers Allianz Life MasterDex X Indexed
       
Large/Regional Broker-Dealers New York Life NYL Secure Term Fixed Annuity Book Value
       
Wirehouses Nationwide BOA Platinum Edge MVA

"Looking ahead, falling interest rates are likely to dampen fixed rate annuity sales in the near-term but may help indexed annuities. Income annuity results are likely to strengthen gradually due to growing demand for lifetime income and that will support indexed products with guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefits as well," Alexander concluded.

About the Beacon Research Fixed Annuity Premium Study

The quarterly Study is the first and only source to track and analyze product-level fixed annuity sales on an ongoing basis. Providing timely market intelligence of the highest quality, it's designed to report what's moving in each channel and why

About Beacon Research

Beacon Research tracks fixed, indexed and variable annuity sales, rates and features, and provides web-based systems at www.annuitynexus.com for distributors and insurance companies. Beacon also licenses information and software tools to other platforms, including EbixExchange's AnnuityNet annuity automation platform. Beacon's fixed annuity benchmark series -- the industry's first - is available through Ibbotson Associates. Directly and through strategic alliances, Beacon information can be accessed by hundreds of financial institutions and distributors.

The Beacon Research logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=509   

1 Sales figures do not include structured settlements.

2 Book value fixed annuities do not impose a market value adjustment (MVA) if the owner withdraws assets before the end of the contract term. MVA products do impose such an adjustment. Both book value and MVA annuities pay a declared rate of interest for a specified period.

CONTACT: Judith Alexander
         847.864.5447
         judith@beaconresearch.net

© Copyright 2012, GlobeNewswire, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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