Securian Financial Group, which played its hand conservatively before and during the financial crisis, is gaining market share in the life insurance business as it rebounds faster than overall industry.
The St. Paul-based company will announce at its annual meeting Tuesday that earnings rose 25 percent to a record $184 million in 2011 on a 7 percent increase in revenue to $3.3 billion.
The company, which did not have to cut deeply into capital despite huge losses on real estate during the recession, has emerged as one of the 15 strongest life insurers nationally, according to four independent ratings agencies.
"We didn't get carried away during the [2004-06] real estate boom," CEO Bob Senkler said in a recent interview. "We have good dirt under our mortgages."
The company's strong capital position has allowed it to invest heavily in expansion of products and in distribution, even as it made acquisitions from among weaker players. For example, Securian bought Bank of America's Balboa Life Insurance unit last fall.
Senkler said Securian, a mutual company owned by its policyholders, has no interest in selling stock and becoming a publicly held company.
"We sell a 'promise to pay' and, as a mutual, we can focus more on the long term and hold higher levels of capital" to back that promise than the shareholders of a public company would tolerate, Senkler said.
Securian is expected to announce record profit-sharing contributions at Tuesday's annual meeting for its 3,600 employees, including 2,400 who work in St. Paul. Securian is one of St. Paul's largest employers and downtown's largest private property owner.
Senkler, 59, who rose from actuary to become CEO in 1994, has said that he has no plans to retire before he reaches the mandatory age of 65.
Chris Hilger, 47, was named president of Securian in December and is the likely successor to Senkler.
Hilger heads Securian's insurance businesses and oversees its information services technology. He also is CEO of Securian's Allied Solutions subsidiary, which is based in Indianapolis. Hilger succeeded Randy Wallake as president. Wallake, 65, who also is a vice chairman of the company, will retire in July.
Securian is the parent company of Minnesota Life Insurance, Advantus Capital Management, Allied Solutions, Capital Financial Group and Securian Financial Services.
Neal St. Anthony • 612-673-7144