AFLAC 10-K 2011
Documents found in this filing:
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2010
For the transition period from to
Commission File Number: 001-07434
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Registrants telephone number, including area code: 706.323.3431
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. þ Yes ¨ No
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. ¨ Yes þ No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. þ Yes ¨ No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (Section 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). þ Yes ¨ No
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (Section 229.405 of this chapter) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrants knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of large accelerated filer, accelerated filer and smaller reporting company in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). ¨ Yes þ No
The aggregate market value of the voting common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant as of June 30, 2010, was $19,757,078,472.
The number of shares of the registrants common stock outstanding at February 17, 2011, with $.10 par value, was 470,207,182.
Documents Incorporated By Reference
Certain information contained in the Notice and Proxy Statement for the Companys Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be held on May 2, 2011, is incorporated by reference into Part III hereof.
Annual Report on Form 10-K
For the Year Ended December 31, 2010
Table of Contents
We prepare our financial statements in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). This report includes certain forward-looking information that is based on current expectations and is subject to a number of risks and uncertainties. For details on forward-looking information, see Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (MD&A), Part II, Item 7, of this report.
Aflac Incorporated qualifies as a large accelerated filer within the meaning of Exchange Act Rule 12b-2. Our Internet address is aflac.com. The information on the Companys Web site is not incorporated by reference in this annual report on Form 10-K. We make available, free of charge on our Web site, our annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and amendments thereto as soon as reasonably practicable after those forms have been electronically filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Aflac Incorporated (the Parent Company) was incorporated in 1973 under the laws of the state of Georgia. Aflac Incorporated is a general business holding company and acts as a management company, overseeing the operations of its subsidiaries by providing management services and making capital available. Its principal business is supplemental health and life insurance, which is marketed and administered through its subsidiary, American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus (Aflac), which operates in the United States (Aflac U.S.) and as a branch in Japan (Aflac Japan). Most of Aflacs policies are individually underwritten and marketed through independent agents. Additionally, Aflac U.S. markets and administers group products through Continental American Insurance Company (CAIC), referred to as Aflac Group Insurance. Our insurance operations in the United States and our branch in Japan service the two markets for our insurance business.
We believe Aflac is the worlds leading underwriter of individually issued policies marketed at worksites. We offer voluntary insurance policies in Japan and the United States that provide a layer of financial protection against income and asset loss. We continue to diversify our product offerings in both Japan and the United States. Aflac Japan sells voluntary supplemental insurance products, including cancer plans, general medical indemnity plans, medical/sickness riders, care plans, living benefit life plans, ordinary life insurance plans and annuities. Aflac U.S. sells voluntary supplemental insurance products including loss-of-income products (life and short-term disability plans) and products designed to protect individuals from depletion of assets (hospital indemnity, fixed-benefit dental, vision care, accident, cancer, critical illness/ critical care, and hospital intensive care plans).
We are authorized to conduct insurance business in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, several U.S. territories and Japan. Aflac Japans revenues, including realized gains and losses on its investment portfolio, accounted for 75% of the Companys total revenues in 2010, 73% in 2009 and 72% in 2008. The percentage of the Companys total assets attributable to Aflac Japan was 86% at December 31, 2010, and 85% at December 31, 2009. For additional information, see Note 2 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in this report.
Results of Operations
For information on our results of operations and financial information by segment, see MD&A and Note 2 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in this report.
Foreign Currency Translation
For information regarding the effect of currency fluctuations on our business, see the Foreign Currency Translation and Market Risks of Financial Instruments Currency Risk subsections of MD&A and Note 2 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in this report.
The growth of earned premiums is directly affected by the change in premiums in force and by the change in weighted-average yen/dollar exchange rates. Consolidated earned premiums were $18.1 billion in 2010, $16.6 billion
in 2009, and $14.9 billion in 2008. For additional information on the composition of earned premiums by segment, see Note 2 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in this report. The following table presents the changes in annualized premiums in force for Aflacs insurance business for the years ended December 31.
We translate Aflac Japans annualized premiums in force into dollars at the respective end-of-period exchange rates. Changes in annualized premiums in force are translated at weighted-average exchange rates. The following table presents the changes in annualized premiums in force for Aflac Japan for the years ended December 31.
For further information regarding Aflac Japans financial results, sales and the Japanese economy, see the Aflac Japan subsection of MD&A in this report.
The following table presents the changes in annualized premiums in force for Aflac U.S. for the years ended December 31.
For further information regarding Aflacs U.S. financial results and sales, see the Aflac U.S. section of MD&A in this report.
Insurance Products Japan
Aflac Japans insurance products are designed to help consumers pay for medical and nonmedical costs that are not reimbursed under Japans national health insurance system. Changes in Japans economy and an aging population have put increasing pressure on Japans national health care system. As a result, more costs are being shifted to Japanese consumers, who in turn have become increasingly interested in insurance products that help them manage those costs. Aflac Japan has responded to this consumer need by enhancing existing products and developing new products.
Aflac Japans product portfolio has expanded beyond traditional health-related products to include more life products. Some of the life products that we offer in Japan provide death benefits and cash surrender values. These products are available as stand-alone policies and riders. Some plans, such as our WAYS product, have features that allow policyholders to convert a portion of their life insurance to medical, nursing care, or fixed annuity benefits at a predetermined age. In 2009, we introduced a new child endowment product, which offers a death benefit until the child reaches age 18. It also pays a lump-sum benefit at the time of the childs entry into high school, as well as an educational annuity for each of the four years during his or her college education. We linked the marketing of our child endowment product to a new government subsidy that was first paid in June 2010 to families with children age 15 and younger. We believe that traditional life insurance products, like our child endowment plan, provide further opportunities for us to sell our third sector cancer and medical products.
Aflac Japans stand-alone medical product, EVER, offers a basic level of hospitalization coverage with an affordable premium. Since its initial introduction in 2002, we have expanded our suite of EVER product offerings that appeal to specific types of Japanese consumers. In August 2009, we introduced a new generation of our popular EVER product, the most notable changes being an enhanced surgical benefit and gender-specific premium rates. We believe that there is an attractive market for this type of medical product in Japan. In June 2010, we introduced a revision to Gentle EVER, our non-standard medical product. This new product offers more benefits than the original non-standard medical product that we began offering in 2007, and we believe it will continue to meet the needs of certain consumers who cannot qualify for our base EVER plan. We continue to believe that the entire medical category will remain an important part of our product portfolio in Japan.
The cancer insurance plans we offer in Japan provide a lump-sum benefit upon initial diagnosis of internal cancer and a fixed daily benefit for hospitalization and outpatient services related to cancer as well as surgical, convalescent and terminal care benefits. Our Cancer Forte product offers additional benefits, including payment of outpatient benefits for 60 days (compared with 30 days for previous plans), payment of an annuity from the second year through the fifth year after initial diagnosis of cancer, and Premier Support, where Aflac arranges for a third party to provide policyholders with counseling and doctor referral services upon their cancer diagnosis. For consumers who had the earlier cancer insurance product, we introduced a special bridge policy in 2008 that allows existing policyholders to upgrade their coverage to that of Cancer Forte.
In June 2010, we introduced a product called Corsage, which is a female-specific rider to our cancer insurance product. In Japan, young women are more likely to suffer from cancer than young men. Corsage provides surgery benefits that address the high cost of treating female-specific cancers. As the number one provider of cancer insurance in Japan, we believe this new product will further strengthen our brand, and most importantly, provide valuable benefits to consumers who are looking for solutions to cancer-related costs.
We also offer traditional fixed-income annuities and care policies. For additional information on Aflac Japans products and composition of sales, see the Aflac Japan subsection of MD&A in this report.
Insurance Products U.S.
We design our U.S. insurance products to provide supplemental coverage for people who already have major medical or primary insurance coverage. Most of our U.S. policies are individually underwritten and marketed through independent agents. Additionally, we started to market and administer group insurance products in 2009.
Our individually issued policies are portable and pay regardless of other insurance. Benefits are paid in cash directly to policyholders; therefore, they have the opportunity to use this cash to help with expenses of their choosing. Our individually issued health insurance plans are guaranteed-renewable for the lifetime of the policyholder (to age 70 for short-term disability policies). We cannot cancel guaranteed-renewable coverage, but we can increase premium rates on existing policies on a uniform, nondiscriminatory basis by class of policy in response to adverse experience. Any premium rate increases are subject to state regulatory approval. We have had minimal rate increase activity in the last five years.
Our group insurance policies are underwritten on a group basis and often have some element of guaranteed issue. This coverage is generally not portable, which means the insurance coverage may terminate upon separation from employment or affiliation with the entity holding the group contract.
Aflac U.S. offers short-term disability benefits on both an individual and group basis. Short-term disability policies provide disability benefits with a variety of elimination and benefit period options. The longest such benefit period offered is two years.
Aflac U.S. offers term and whole-life coverage sold through payroll deduction at the worksite on both an individual and group basis and various term and whole-life individual policies on a direct basis.
Aflac U.S. offers hospital indemnity coverage on both an individual and group basis. Our hospital indemnity products provide fixed daily benefits for hospitalization due to accident or sickness. Indemnity benefits for inpatient and outpatient surgeries, as well as various other diagnostic expenses, are also available. Our sickness indemnity plan provides a fixed daily benefit for hospitalization due to sickness and fixed amounts for physician services for accident or sickness. This plan is offered on an individually underwritten basis.
Aflac U.S. offers fixed-benefit dental coverage on both an individual and group basis. These policies provide various levels of benefits for dental procedures, including checkups and cleanings. Plan features include fixed benefits without deductibles, network restrictions, or annual rate reviews.
Aflac U.S. also offers Vision NowSM, an individually issued policy which provides benefits for serious eye health conditions and loss of sight. Vision Now includes coverage for corrective eye materials and exam benefits.
Aflac U.S. offers accident coverage on both an individual and group basis. These policies are designed to protect against losses resulting from accidents. The accident portion of the policy includes lump-sum benefits for accidental death, dismemberment and specific injuries as well as fixed benefits for hospital confinement. In addition, other benefits such as short-term disability are available as riders.
Aflac U.S. offers cancer coverage on an individually underwritten basis. Our U.S. cancer plans are designed to provide insurance benefits for medical and nonmedical costs that are not covered by major medical insurance. Benefits include a first-occurrence benefit that pays an initial amount when internal cancer is first diagnosed; a fixed amount for each day an insured is hospitalized for cancer treatment; fixed amounts for radiation, chemotherapy and surgery; and a wellness benefit applicable toward certain diagnostic tests. Our Maximum Difference® individually issued cancer plan incorporates coverage for medical advances in cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and the many new ways cancer patients may now receive their care. Maximum Difference allows customization of coverage to fit varying needs and budgets.
Aflac U.S. offers critical illness/critical care policies on both an individual and group basis. Aflac U.S. offers critical illness plans, which pay lump-sum benefits for critical illnesses such as heart attack, stroke, or even cancer, on both a group and individual basis. These are available with lump sum amounts ranging between $5,000 and $100,000. Aflac U.S. also offers a critical care (formerly called specified health event) policy that pays a combination of lump-sum benefits and ongoing treatment benefits for critical illnesses (except cancer).
Aflac U.S. also offers individually issued hospital intensive care plans, which pay benefits for intensive care unit treatment in a hospital.
For additional information on Aflacs U.S. products and composition of sales, see the Aflac U.S. subsection of MD&A in this report.
The traditional channels through which we have sold our products are independent corporate agencies, individual agencies and affiliated corporate agencies. The independent corporate agencies and individual agencies that sell our products give us better access to workers at a vast number of small businesses in Japan. Agents activities are primarily focused on insurance sales, with customer service support provided by the Aflac Contact Center. Independent corporate agencies and individual agencies contributed 51% of new annualized premium sales in 2010 and 55% in both 2009 and 2008. Affiliated corporate agencies are formed when companies establish subsidiary businesses to sell our insurance products to their employees, suppliers and customers. These agencies help us reach employees at large worksites. Affiliated corporate agencies contributed 31% of new annualized
premium sales in 2010, compared with 35% in 2009 and 36% in 2008. During 2010, we recruited approximately 4,800 new sales agencies. As of December 31, 2010, Aflac Japan was represented by more than 19,600 sales agencies, with more than 115,400 licensed sales associates employed by those agencies at such date. We believe that new agencies will continue to be attracted to Aflac Japans high commissions, superior products, customer service and strong brand image.
We have sold our products to employees of banks since our entry into Japan in 1974. However, December 2007 marked the first time it was permissible for banks to sell our type of insurance products to their customers. By the end of 2010, we had agreements with 364 banks, approximately 90% of the total number of banks in Japan, to sell our products. We have significantly more banks selling our third sector insurance products than any of our competitors. We believe our long-standing and strong relationships within the Japanese banking sector, along with our strategic preparations, have proven to be an advantage as this channel opened up for our products. Banks contributed 15% of Aflac Japan new annualized premium sales in 2010, compared with 6% in 2009 and 3% in 2008.
We continue to reach consumers through our strategic marketing alliance with Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company (Dai-ichi Life). We believe our alliance has been one of the most successful partnerships in the insurance industry since it was first launched in 2001. Dai-ichi Life contributed 3% of Aflac Japan new annualized premium sales in 2010, compared with 4% in 2009 and 7% in 2008.
For additional information on Aflac Japans distribution, see the Aflac Japan subsection of MD&A in this report.
Our U.S. sales force comprises sales associates and brokers who are independent contractors licensed to sell accident and health insurance. Many are also licensed to sell life insurance. Sales associates and brokers are paid commissions based on first-year and renewal premiums from their sales of insurance products. In addition to receiving commissions on personal production, district, regional and state sales coordinators may also receive override commissions and incentive bonuses. Administrative personnel in Georgia, New York, Nebraska, and South Carolina handle policyholder service functions, including issuance of policies, premium collection, payment notices and claims.
We concentrate on marketing our insurance products at the worksite. This method offers policies to individuals through employment, trade and other associations. Historically, our policies have been individually underwritten with premiums generally paid by the employee. Additionally, Aflacs individual policies are portable, meaning that individuals may retain their full insurance coverage upon separation from employment or such affiliation, generally at the same premium. We collect a major portion of premiums on such sales through payroll deduction or other forms of centralized billing. With our brokerage sales expansion and the purchase of CAIC, now branded as Aflac Group Insurance, in 2009, we are now able to offer group voluntary insurance products desired by many large employers. These products are sold on a group basis and often have some element of guaranteed issue. This coverage is generally not portable, which means the insurance coverage may terminate upon separation from employment or affiliation with the entity holding the group contract. Worksite marketing enables sales associates and brokers to reach a greater number of prospective policyholders and lowers distribution costs, compared with individually marketed business.
During the past several years, we have enhanced and increased the size of our traditional distribution system. We recruited more than 22,100 new sales associates in 2010, resulting in more than 72,500 licensed sales associates at December 31, 2010. To enhance our recruiting results, we have amended the bonus structure for our state and regional coordinators from one that was based entirely on sales results to a structure that incorporates a people development component. We have also initiated a national recruiting contest that incentivizes producer recruitment. In addition, we provide a recruiting workshop that focuses on improving coordinator productivity by emphasizing candidate sourcing, interviewing, and contract acceptance. However, increasing our sales force means more than just recruiting people. We also focus on growing the number of average weekly producers, which measures high-quality, consistent, capable producers who make solid, consistent contributions to sales.
New sales associates participate in our New Associate Training Cycle, a training program that combines classroom instruction and online learning through Aflac University® with field training. The New Associate Training
Cycle also includes LEASE training (Larger Earnings by Acquiring Smaller Employers), which helps new sales associates jumpstart their sales careers with an easily transferable guide for approaching smaller businesses.
In addition to training sales associates, we extend our training initiatives to both new and veteran sales force management. Sales associates who exhibit leadership potential are invited to participate in our national Coordinator in Training (CIT) program. The CIT program concentrates on developing potential leaders skills so they have a better chance to succeed as a district sales coordinator, the first level of Aflacs sales force management. For district, regional, and state sales coordinators (listed in order from first level to highest level of sales management), we have refined and expanded the use of leadership development programs. We believe our efforts to increase the size and capability of our field force will translate into a higher proportion of successful producing sales associates in the future.
In addition to our established training programs, we conduct an annual Aflac National Training Day, which is available to all levels of our field force. Objectives of this training day have recently included topics such as: (1) conveying to our sales force how a weak economy enhances the need for our products and training them on how to better sell in the current economic environment, (2) providing training and support for new product initiatives and (3) developing associates skills in achieving enrollment conditions necessary to succeed in economic environments with lagging consumer confidence.
In 2009, we introduced Success Trax, which is a tool that benefits all levels of our sales force. At the sales associate level, this technology helps streamline information about their contacts, presentations, sales, referrals, and enrollments. At the sales coordinator level, it allows sales management to track the activities, progress, strengths, and weaknesses of those who report to them so they may proactively coach agents on their team and address any emerging issues or need for improvement.
Our Aflac for BrokersSM initiative was implemented in 2009. Insurance brokers have been a historically underleveraged sales channel for Aflac, and we are developing relationships that will complement our traditional distribution system. We have assembled a management team experienced in broker sales, and we are supporting this initiative with streamlined products, targeted broker-specific advertising campaigns, customized enrollment technology, and competitive compensation. Additionally, a new level of management was introduced in 2009 to deliver this initiative. More than 100 broker development coordinators have been hired to be single points of contact for brokers across the country. Broker development coordinators are responsible for building relationships with new brokers as well as strengthening relationships with our current brokers. These coordinators are assisted by a team of certified case managers whose role is to coordinate and manage the account enrollments for brokers. Aflac Group Insurance equips us with a platform for offering voluntary group insurance products for distribution by insurance brokers at the worksite. Expanding our product portfolio with group products also greatly enhances the sales opportunities for our traditional sales force of individual associates.
For additional information on Aflacs U.S. distribution, see the Aflac U.S. subsection of MD&A in this report.
In 1974, Aflac was granted an operating license to sell life insurance in Japan, making Aflac the second non-Japanese life insurance company to gain direct access to the Japanese insurance market. Through 1981, we faced limited competition for cancer insurance policy sales. However, Japan has experienced two periods of deregulation since we entered the market. The first came in the early 1980s, when nine mid-sized insurers, including domestic and foreign companies, were allowed to sell cancer insurance products for the first time. In 2001, all life and non-life insurers were allowed to sell stand-alone cancer and medical insurance products as well as other stand-alone health insurance products. As a result, the number of insurance companies offering stand-alone cancer and medical insurance has more than doubled since the market was deregulated in 2001. However, based on our growth of annualized premiums in force and agencies, we do not believe that our market-leading position has been significantly impacted by increased competition. Furthermore, we believe the continued development and maintenance of operating efficiencies will allow us to offer affordable products that appeal to consumers. Aflac is the largest insurer in Japan in terms of individual policies in force. As of December 31, 2010, we exceeded 20 million individual policies in force in Japan.
Aflac has had substantial success selling cancer policies in Japan, with more than 14 million cancer policies in force as of December 31, 2010. Aflac continued to be the number one seller of cancer insurance policies in Japan throughout 2010. We believe we will remain a leading provider of cancer insurance coverage in Japan, principally due to our experience in the market, low-cost operations, unique marketing system (see Distribution Japan above) and product expertise.
We have also experienced substantial success selling medical insurance in Japan. While other companies have recognized the opportunities that we have seen in the medical insurance market and offered new products, we believe our products stand out for their value to consumers. Aflac Japan continued to be the number one seller of stand-alone medical insurance in the life insurance industry in terms of policy sales in 2010.
In addition to third sector products, Aflac Japan is showing steady progress in sales of life insurance products, such as our child endowment product and WAYS which are described in the Products section of this Form 10-K. The market for ordinary life products is highly competitive. Our current market share of ordinary life sales is relatively small; however, we will continue to pursue the development and marketing of specialty products that meet specific needs within the general life insurance market.
We compete against several insurers on a national basis plus other insurers regionally. We believe our policies and premium rates, as well as the commissions paid to our sales associates, are competitive with those offered by other companies providing similar types of insurance. However, we believe our U.S. business is distinct from our competitors because of our product focus, distribution system, and brand awareness. For many of the other companies that sell voluntary supplemental insurance, it represents a secondary business. For us, it is our primary business. We also believe that our growing distribution system of independent sales associates and brokers expands our business opportunities, while our advertising campaigns have increased our name awareness and understanding by consumers and businesses of the value our products provide.
Private insurers and voluntary and cooperative plans, such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield, provide major medical insurance for hospitalization and medical expenses. Much of this insurance is sold on a group basis. The federal and state governments also pay substantial costs of medical treatment through various programs. Such major medical insurance generally covers a substantial amount of the medical expenses incurred by an insured as a result of accident and disability, cancer or other major illnesses. Aflacs policies are designed to provide coverage that supplements major medical insurance and may also be used to defray nonmedical expenses. Thus, we do not compete directly with major medical insurers. However, the scope of major medical coverage offered by other insurers does represent a potential limitation on the market for our products. Accordingly, expansion of coverage by other insurers or governmental programs could adversely affect our business opportunities. Conversely, any reduction of coverage, or increased deductibles and copayments, by other insurers or governmental programs could favorably affect our business opportunities.
Investments and Investment Results
Net investment income was $3.0 billion in 2010, $2.8 billion in 2009 and $2.6 billion in 2008. In each of these three years, net investment income benefited from the strengthening of the yen/dollar exchange rate. The growth rate however has been negatively impacted by the low level of investment yields for new money in both Japan and the United States. In particular, Japans life insurance industry has contended with low investment yields for a number of years.
The following table presents the composition of total investments by sector, at amortized cost, and cash for Aflac Japan ($78.4 billion in 2010 and $65.3 billion in 2009) as of December 31.
Composition of Portfolio by Sector
Our highest sector concentration is in banks and financial institutions. Our investment discipline begins with a top-down approach. We first approve each country we invest in, and within those countries, we primarily invest in financial institutions that are strategically crucial to each countrys economy. The banks and financial institutions sector is a highly regulated industry and plays a strategic role in the global economy. While this is our largest sector concentration, we achieve some degree of diversification through a geographically diverse universe of credit exposures. See Note 3 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements and the Market Risks of Financial Instruments Credit Risk subsection of MD&A for more information regarding the sector concentrations of our investments.
Yen-denominated debt and perpetual securities accounted for 91% of Aflac Japans total debt and perpetual securities at December 31, 2010, compared with 94% at December 31, 2009, at amortized cost.
Funds available for investment include cash flows from operations, investment income, and funds generated from bond swaps, maturities and redemptions. Aflac Japan purchased debt security investments at aggregate acquisition cost of approximately 790.4 billion yen in 2010 (approximately $9.1 billion), 955.6 billion yen in 2009 (approximately $10.1 billion), and 689.0 billion yen in 2008 (approximately $6.8 billion). During the three-year period ended December 31, 2010, there were no purchases of perpetual securities, and equity security purchases were immaterial. The following table presents the composition of debt security purchases by sector, as a percentage of acquisition cost, for the years ended December 31.
Composition of Purchases by Sector
The change in allocation of purchases from year to year is based on diversification objectives, relative value and availability of investment opportunities. In 2009, a significant portion of the increased percentage of purchases of securities in the government and agencies sector was due to a bond-swap program that we executed to generate investment gains to take advantage of tax loss carryforwards.
The distributions by credit rating of Aflac Japans purchases of debt securities for the years ended December 31, based on acquisition cost, were as follows:
Composition of Purchases by Credit Rating
Our purchases of securities are determined through an evaluation of attractive relative value that securities present while still meeting our investment policy guidelines for liquidity, safety and quality.
The distributions of debt and perpetual securities owned by Aflac Japan, by credit rating, as of December 31 were as follows:
Composition of Portfolio by Credit Rating
The following table presents the composition of total investments by sector, at amortized cost, and cash for Aflac U.S. ($9.1 billion in 2010 and $8.4 billion in 2009) as of December 31.
Composition of Portfolio by Sector
See Note 3 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements and the Market Risks of Financial Instruments Credit Risk subsection of MD&A for more information regarding the sector concentrations of our investments.
Funds available for investment include cash flows from operations, investment income, and funds generated from bond swaps, maturities and redemptions. Aflac U.S. purchased debt security investments at an aggregate acquisition cost of approximately $1.9 billion in 2010, $1.0 billion in 2009 and $1.1 billion in 2008. We purchased no perpetual or equity securities during the three-year period ended December 31, 2010. The following table presents the composition of debt security purchases by sector, as a percentage of acquisition cost, for the years ended December 31.
Composition of Purchases by Sector
The change in allocation of purchases from year to year is based on diversification objectives, relative value and availability of investment opportunities.
The distributions by credit rating of Aflacs U.S. purchases of debt securities for the years ended December 31, based on acquisition cost, were as follows:
Composition of Purchases by Credit Rating
Our purchases of securities are determined through an evaluation of attractive relative value that securities present while still meeting our investment policy guidelines for liquidity, safety and quality.
The distributions of debt and perpetual securities owned by Aflac U.S., by credit rating, as of December 31 were as follows:
Composition of Portfolio by Credit Rating
For additional information on the composition of our investment portfolios and investment results, see the Analysis of Financial Condition section in MD&A and Notes 3 and 5 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in this report.
The financial and business affairs of Aflac Japan are subject to examination by Japans Financial Services Agency (FSA). Aflac Japan files annual reports and financial statements for the Japanese insurance operations based on a March 31 fiscal year end, prepared in accordance with Japanese regulatory accounting practices prescribed or permitted by the FSA. Japanese regulatory basis earnings are determined using accounting principles that differ materially from U.S. GAAP. Under Japanese regulatory accounting practices, policy acquisition costs are charged off immediately; deferred income tax liabilities are recognized on a different basis; policy benefit and claim reserving methods and assumptions are different; the carrying value of securities transferred to held-to-maturity is different; policyholder protection corporation obligations are not accrued; premium income is recognized on a cash basis; and different consolidation criteria apply to variable interest entities. Reconciliations of the net assets of the Japan branch on a U.S. GAAP basis to net assets determined on a Japanese regulatory accounting basis as of December 31 were as follows:
The FSA maintains a solvency standard, which is used by Japanese regulators to monitor the financial strength of insurance companies. As of December 31, 2010, Aflac Japans solvency margin ratio was 897.5%, which significantly exceeds regulatory minimums. The FSA will apply a revised method of calculating the solvency margin ratio for life insurance companies as of fiscal year-end 2011 (March 31, 2012) and requires the disclosure of the ratio as reference information for fiscal year-end 2010 (March 31, 2011). The FSA has stated that the revision would generally reduce life insurance companies solvency margin ratios to approximately half the level of those reported under the current calculation method. We do not expect our relative position within the industry to materially change.
A portion of Aflac Japans annual earnings, as determined on a Japanese regulatory accounting basis, may be repatriated each year to Aflac U.S. These repatriated profits represent a portion of Aflac Japans after-tax earnings reported to the FSA on a March 31 fiscal year basis. We may elect not to repatriate profits to Aflac U.S. or to repatriate a reduced amount to strengthen Aflac Japans solvency margin. In addition, the FSA may not allow profit repatriations to Aflac U.S. if the transfers would cause Aflac Japan to lack sufficient financial strength for the protection of Japanese policyholders. In the near term, we do not expect these requirements to adversely affect the funds available for profit repatriations, nor do we expect these requirements to adversely affect the funds available for payments of allocated expenses to Aflac U.S. and management fees to the Parent Company.
The Japanese insurance industry has a policyholder protection corporation that provides funds for the policyholders of insolvent insurers. For additional information regarding the policyholder protection fund, see the Policyholder Protection Corporation subsection of MD&A and Note 2 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in this report.
As a branch of our principal insurance subsidiary, Aflac Japan is also subject to regulation and supervision in the United States (see Regulation U.S.). For additional information regarding Aflac Japans operations and regulations, see the Aflac Japan subsection of MD&A and Notes 2 and 12 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in this report.
The Parent Company and its insurance subsidiaries, Aflac (a Nebraska-domiciled insurance company), American Family Life Assurance Company of New York (Aflac New York, a New York-domiciled insurance company) and CAIC (a South Carolina-domiciled insurance company) are subject to state regulations in the United States as an insurance holding company system. Such regulations generally provide that transactions between companies within the holding company system must be fair and equitable. In addition, transfers of assets among such affiliated companies, certain dividend payments from insurance subsidiaries, and material transactions between companies within the system, including management fees, loans and advances are subject to prior notice to, or approval by, state regulatory authorities. These laws generally require, among other things, the insurance holding company and each insurance company directly owned by the holding company to register with the insurance departments of their respective domiciliary states and to furnish annually financial and other information about the operations of companies within the holding company system.
Like all U.S. insurance companies, Aflac is subject to regulation and supervision in the jurisdictions in which it does business. In general, the insurance laws of the various jurisdictions establish supervisory agencies with broad administrative powers relating to, among other things:
The insurance laws of Nebraska that govern Aflacs activities provide that the acquisition or change of control of a domestic insurer or of any person that controls a domestic insurer cannot be consummated without the prior approval of the Nebraska Department of Insurance. A person seeking to acquire control, directly or indirectly, of a
domestic insurance company or of any person controlling a domestic insurance company (in the case of Aflac, the Parent Company) must generally file with the Nebraska Department of Insurance an application for change of control containing certain information required by statute and published regulations and provide a copy to Aflac. In Nebraska, control is generally presumed to exist if any person, directly or indirectly, acquires 10% or more of an insurance company or of any other person or entity controlling the insurance company. The 10% presumption is not conclusive and control may be found to exist at less than 10%. Similar laws apply in New York and South Carolina, the domiciliary jurisdictions of the Parent Companys other insurance subsidiaries, Aflac New York and CAIC.
Additionally, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) continually reviews regulatory matters and recommends changes and revisions for adoption by state legislators and insurance departments.
The NAIC uses a risk-based capital formula relating to insurance risk, business risk, asset risk and interest rate risk to facilitate identification by insurance regulators of inadequately capitalized insurance companies based upon the types and mix of risk inherent in the insurers operations. The formulas for determining the amount of risk-based capital specify various weighting factors that are applied to financial balances or various levels of activity based on the perceived degree of risk. Regulatory compliance is determined by a ratio of a companys regulatory total adjusted capital to its authorized control level risk-based capital as defined by the NAIC. Companies below specific trigger points or ratios are classified within certain levels, each of which requires specified corrective action.
The levels are company action, regulatory action, authorized control, and mandatory control. Aflacs NAIC risk-based capital ratio remains high and reflects a very strong capital and surplus position. As of December 31, 2010, based on year-end statutory accounting results, Aflacs company action level RBC ratio was 555%.
New federal legislation and administrative policies in several areas, including health care reform legislation, financial services reform legislation, securities regulation, pension regulation, privacy, tort reform legislation and taxation, can significantly and adversely affect insurance companies. Various forms of federal oversight and regulation of insurance have been passed by Congress and signed into law by the President. For example, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, federal health care reform legislation, gives the U.S. federal government direct regulatory authority over the business of health insurance. The reform includes major changes to the U.S. health care insurance marketplace. Among other changes, the reform legislation includes an individual medical insurance coverage mandate, provides for penalties on certain employers for failing to provide adequate coverage, creates health insurance exchanges, and addresses coverage and exclusions as well as medical loss ratios. The legislation also includes changes in government reimbursements and tax credits for individuals and employers and alters federal and state regulation of health insurers. These changes will be phased in over the next several years and are directed toward major medical health insurance coverage, which Aflac does not offer. Accordingly, our products are not subject to or covered under the major provisions of the new legislation as enacted.
In July 2010, President Obama signed into law the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, commonly known as the Dodd-Frank Act, which, among other things, created a Financial Stability and Oversight Council. The Council may designate by a two-thirds vote whether certain insurance companies and insurance holding companies pose a grave threat to the financial stability of the United States, in which case such nonbank financial companies would become subject to prudential regulation by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors (including capital requirements, leverage limits, liquidity requirements and examinations). The Board may limit such companys ability to enter into merger transactions, restrict its ability to offer financial products, require it to terminate one or more activities, or impose conditions on the manner in which it conducts activities. The Dodd-Frank Act also established a Federal Insurance Office under the U.S. Treasury Department to monitor all aspects of the insurance industry and of lines of business other than certain health insurance, certain long-term care insurance and crop insurance. The director of the Federal Insurance Office will have the ability to recommend that an insurance company or an insurance holding company be subject to heightened prudential standards. The Dodd-Frank Act requires extensive rule-making and other future regulatory action, which in some cases will take a period of years to implement.
For further information concerning Aflac U.S. operations, regulation, change of control and dividend restrictions, see the Aflac U.S. subsection of MD&A and Notes 2 and 12 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in this report.
As of December 31, 2010, Aflac Japan had 4,016 employees and Aflac U.S. had 3,903 employees. We consider our employee relations to be excellent.
Our other operations include the Parent Company and a printing subsidiary. These operations had 292 employees as of December 31, 2010. We consider our relations with these employees to be excellent. For additional information on our other operations, see the Other Operations subsection of MD&A.
Executive Officers of the Registrant
We face a wide range of risks, and our continued success depends on our ability to identify, prioritize and appropriately manage our enterprise risk exposures. Readers should carefully consider each of the following risks and all of the other information set forth in this Form 10-K. These risks and other factors may affect forward-looking statements, including those in this document or made by the Company elsewhere, such as in earnings release webcasts, investor conference presentations or press releases. The risks and uncertainties described herein may not be the only ones facing the Company. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or that we currently believe to be immaterial may also adversely affect our business. If any of the following risks and uncertainties develop into actual events, there could be a material impact on the Company.
Difficult conditions in global capital markets and the economy could have a material adverse effect on our investments, capital position, revenue, profitability, and liquidity and harm our business.
Our results of operations are materially affected by conditions in the global capital markets and the economy generally, in the United States, Japan and elsewhere. Financial markets in the United States, Europe and Asia experienced extreme disruption during the latter part of 2008 and much of 2009. Concerns over the availability and cost of credit, the U.S. mortgage market, a declining real estate market in the United States, energy costs and geopolitical issues, among other factors, contributed to increased volatility and diminished expectations for the economy and the markets. These factors, combined with volatile commodity prices, declining business and consumer confidence, increased unemployment, and the impact of the economy on businesses, in particular, precipitated an economic slowdown and fears of a sustained recession.
The volatility and heightened perception of risk that plagued fixed income markets during this period have diminished somewhat, and liquidity is greatly improved in many sectors of the market. However, beginning in early 2010, risk of sovereign defaults or restructurings, combined with decreased valuations and liquidity for certain entities in the European banking sector, have negatively impacted securities issued by these entities. These developments may have an adverse effect on our capital position, in part because we hold in our investment portfolio a significant amount of fixed maturity and perpetual securities, including a large portion issued by banks and financial institutions. Our revenues may decline in such circumstances and our profit margins may erode.
We need liquidity to pay our operating expenses, dividends on our common stock, interest on our debt and liabilities. For a further description of our liquidity needs, including maturing indebtedness, see Item 7 of this Form 10-K Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations Capital Resources and Liquidity. In the event our current resources do not meet our needs, we may need to seek additional financing. The availability of additional financing will depend on a variety of factors such as market conditions, the general availability of credit to the financial services industry and our credit ratings, as well as the possibility that lenders or debt investors may develop a negative perception of us if we incur large investment losses or if the level of our business activity decreases due to a market downturn or there are further adverse economic trends in the United States or Japan. Similarly, our access to funds may be impaired if regulatory authorities or rating agencies take negative actions against us.
Factors such as consumer spending, business investment, government spending, the volatility and strength of the capital markets, and inflation all affect the business and economic environment and, indirectly, the amount and profitability of our business. In an economic downturn characterized by higher unemployment, lower family income, lower corporate earnings, lower business investment and lower consumer spending, the demand for financial and insurance products could be adversely affected. This adverse effect could be particularly significant for companies such as ours that distribute supplemental, discretionary insurance products primarily through the worksite in the event that economic conditions result in a decrease in the number of new hires and total employees. Adverse changes in the economy could potentially lead our customers to be less inclined to purchase supplemental insurance coverage or to decide to cancel or modify existing insurance coverage, which could adversely affect our premium revenue, results of operations and financial condition. We are unable to predict the likely duration and severity of the current disruptions in financial markets and adverse economic conditions in the United States, Japan and other countries, which may have an adverse effect on us, in part because we are dependent upon customer behavior and spending. In addition, adverse conditions in the financial sector could result in lower sales through our bank distribution channel, as account executives refocus their discussions with customers toward the banks core business and away from supplemental insurance products in times of economic stress.
The effect that governmental actions for the purpose of stabilizing the financial markets will have on such markets generally, or on us specifically, is difficult to determine at this time.
In response to the financial crisis affecting the banking system and financial markets and concern about financial institutions viability, numerous regulatory and governmental actions have been taken or proposed. Within the United States, the Federal Reserve has taken action through reduced federal funds rates and the expansion of acceptable collateral for its loans to provide additional liquidity. The European Central Bank has provided liquidity to its members in much the same way. Numerous financial institutions have received capital both in the form of emergency loans and direct Treasury equity investments. In addition, in February 2009, the U.S. Congress passed a $787 billion economic stimulus plan. The U.S. Federal Reserve has also engaged in several rounds of quantitative easing in the form of direct purchases of Treasury notes and bonds. The most recent was announced in November 2010 and is expected to continue through the second quarter of 2011. Within the United Kingdom and Eurozone, similar actions including interest rate cuts and capital injections into financial institutions have been undertaken, including certain institutions that are obligors of the perpetual securities in our investment portfolio.
There can be no assurance as to the effect that any such governmental actions will have on the financial markets generally or on our competitive position, business and financial condition.
Defaults, downgrades, widening credit spreads or other events impairing the value of the fixed maturity securities and perpetual securities in our investment portfolio may reduce our earnings.
We are subject to the risk that the issuers, guarantors, or counterparties of fixed maturity securities and perpetual securities we own may default on principal, interest and other payments they owe us. We are also subject to the risk that the underlying collateral within loan-backed securities, including collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and mortgage-backed securities, may default on principal and interest payments, causing an adverse change in cash flows from our investment portfolio. The credit rating agencies have been reviewing and modifying their rating criteria for perpetual securities. As a result, many of these securities have been downgraded and may experience further downgrades. We are not currently required to recognize losses on these securities as long as our intent remains not to sell them prior to their anticipated recovery in fair value. If we determine to reposition or realign portions of our investment portfolio so as not to hold certain securities in an unrealized loss position to recovery, we will incur a charge against net income for the unrealized loss in the period that the decision was made not to hold the security to recovery.
In addition to our credit exposure to various obligors and counterparties, we are also exposed to credit spreads, primarily relating to market price and cash flow variability associated with changes in credit spreads. A widening of credit spreads will increase the net unrealized loss position of our fixed maturity investment portfolio and if issuer credit spreads increase significantly or for an extended period of time, it would likely result in higher other-than-temporary impairment charges. Credit spread tightening will reduce net investment income associated with new purchases of fixed maturity securities. In addition, market volatility has made it difficult to value certain of our securities, such as our perpetual securities and our investments in CDOs and variable interest entities, as trading of such securities has become less frequent. As such, our valuations of such securities may include assumptions or estimates that may have significant period-to-period changes, which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition. Ongoing challenges include continued weakness in the U.S. real estate market and increased mortgage delinquencies, investor anxiety over the U.S. and global economy, including sovereign issuers, and rating agency downgrades of various structured products and financial issuers.
For more information regarding credit risk, see the Market Risks of Financial Instruments Credit Risk subsection of MD&A in this Form 10-K.
The impairment of other financial institutions creditworthiness could adversely affect us.
We have exposure to and routinely execute transactions with counterparties in the financial services industry, including brokers and dealers, commercial banks and other institutions. Additionally, our highest concentration in our investment portfolio is in banks and financial institutions. Many of these transactions expose us to credit risk in the event of default of the obligor or the counterparty. In addition, with respect to secured transactions, our credit risk may be exacerbated when the collateral held by us cannot be liquidated at prices sufficient to recover the full amount
of the loan. Any losses or impairments to the carrying value of these assets may materially and adversely impact our business and results of operations. We have agreements with various financial institutions for the distribution of our insurance products. For example, at December 31, 2010, we had agreements with 364 banks to market Aflacs products in Japan. In addition, in 2010, Dai-ichi Life sold approximately 97,000 of our cancer policies under a strategic alliance that we have with Dai-ichi. Any material adverse effect on these or other financial institutions could also have an adverse effect on our sales.
We are subject to certain risks as a result of our investments in perpetual securities.
We maintain investments in perpetual securities, which have no stated maturity. As of December 31, 2010, we held $7.8 billion of perpetual securities, which represented 9.1% of our total debt and perpetual securities, at amortized cost. Our holdings of perpetual securities are in the following geographic areas: Europe, excluding the United Kingdom (71%); the United Kingdom (10%); Japan (14%); and others (5%).
Perpetual securities have characteristics of both debt and equity investments. The securities have stated interest coupons that were fixed at their time of issuance and subsequently change to a floating, short-term rate of interest of 125 to more than 300 basis points above a pre-determined market index, generally by the 25th year after issuance. While we generally believe that this interest step-up has the effect of creating an economic maturity date of the perpetual securities, no assurances can be given that the issuers of these securities will repay the principal at the time any interest step-up becomes effective.
Perpetual securities typically provide that the issuer is able to defer payment of interest on the securities for up to five years. The Upper Tier II securities that we own have cumulative deferrable payment provisions. However, the Tier I securities that we own do not have similar provisions. No assurance can be given that the issuers of these securities will not defer making interest payments.
There is also a risk that the accounting for these perpetual securities could change in a manner that would have an adverse impact on the reporting for these securities. At the date of filing this Form 10-K, the SEC does not object to the use of a debt impairment model for impairment recognition of these securities as long as there is no significant deterioration in the credit condition of the perpetual securities. The debt impairment model allows the holder to consider whether or not interest and principal payments will be received in accordance with contractual terms and the holders intent and ability to hold the perpetual security until there is a recovery in value. The equity impairment model, by contrast, looks at the length of time a securitys market value has been below its cost basis and the percentage decline to determine whether an impairment should be recorded, without consideration to the holders intent and ability to hold the security until recovery in value. If the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) should decide that the appropriate model for determining impairments is the equity model, we would be required to recognize some portion of the unrealized losses now reported directly through equity as a charge against net income. Although this change would not affect total shareholders equity as the unrealized loss is already recorded in shareholders equity, it would reduce net income in the period the change occurred and in future periods. Statutory accounting principles account for these securities using the debt model. Additionally, these securities are carried at amortized cost for statutory reporting purposes, with the exception of any securities that are assigned the lowest NAIC rating (i.e. NAIC 6) or are determined to be impaired, i.e. the issuer will not be able to pay interest and principal as contractually due. Should the statutory accounting requirements change regarding the method of recognizing impairments or the values at which the securities should be carried in the financial statements, it could adversely affect our statutory capital, depending upon the changes adopted.
The valuation of our investments and derivatives includes methodologies, estimations and assumptions which are subject to differing interpretations and could result in changes to investment valuations that may adversely affect our results of operations or financial condition.
The vast majority of our financial instruments are subject to the fair value classification provisions under GAAP, which specifies a hierarchy of valuation techniques based on observable or unobservable inputs to valuations, and relates to our investment securities classified as securities available for sale in our investment portfolio, which comprised $55.9 billion (63%) of our total cash and invested assets at December 31, 2010. In accordance with GAAP, we have categorized these securities into a three-level hierarchy, based on the priority of the inputs to the respective valuation technique. The fair value hierarchy gives the highest priority to quoted prices in active markets
for identical assets or liabilities (Level 1). It gives the next priority to quoted prices in markets that are not active or inputs that are observable either directly or indirectly, including quoted prices for similar assets or liabilities and other inputs that can be derived principally from or corroborated by observable market data for substantially the full term of the assets or liabilities (Level 2). The lowest priority represents unobservable inputs supported by little or no market activity and that reflect the reporting entitys own assumptions about the assumptions that market participants would use in pricing the asset or liability (Level 3). An asset or liabilitys classification within the fair value hierarchy is based on the lowest level of significant input to its valuation.
At December 31, 2010, approximately 30%, 69% and 1% of our total available-for-sale securities represented Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 securities, respectively. Securities that are less liquid are more difficult to value and trade. During periods of market disruption, including periods of significantly rising or high interest rates, rapidly widening credit spreads or illiquidity, it may be difficult to value certain of the securities in our investment portfolio, if trading becomes less frequent and/or market data becomes less observable. There may be certain asset classes that were in active markets with significant observable data that become illiquid due to the current financial environment. In such cases, more securities may fall to Level 3 and thus require more subjectivity and management judgment. In addition, prices provided by independent pricing services and independent broker quotes can vary widely even for the same security.
As such, valuations may include inputs and assumptions that are less observable or require greater estimation as well as valuation methods which are more sophisticated, thereby resulting in values which may be greater or less than the value at which the investments may be ultimately sold. Further, rapidly changing and unprecedented credit and equity market conditions could materially impact the valuation of securities as reported within our consolidated financial statements and the period-to-period changes in value could vary significantly. Decreases in value may have a material adverse effect on our results of operations or financial condition.
For further discussion on investment and derivative valuations, see Notes 1, 3, 4, and 5 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in this Form 10-K.
The determination of the amount of impairments taken on our investments is subjective and could materially impact our results of operations or financial position.
The determination of the amount of impairments is based upon our periodic evaluation and assessment of known and inherent risks associated with the respective securities. Such evaluations and assessments are revised as conditions change and new information becomes available. Management updates its evaluations regularly and reflects impairments in its income statement as such evaluations are revised. There can, however, be no assurance that our management has accurately assessed the level of impairments reflected in our financial statements. Furthermore, additional impairments may need to be taken in the future. Historical trends may not be indicative of future impairments.
An investment in a fixed maturity or a perpetual security is impaired if its fair value falls below its book value. We regularly review our entire investment portfolio for declines in value. If we believe that a decline in the value of a particular investment is temporary, no impairment is taken. However, for our fixed maturity and perpetual securities reported in the available-for-sale portfolio, we report the investments at fair value in the statement of financial condition and record the decline or appreciation as an unrealized loss or gain in accumulated other comprehensive income. Managements assessment of a decline in value includes current judgment as to the financial position and future prospects of the entity that issued the investment security. In the course of our credit review process, we may determine that it is unlikely that we will recover our investment in an issuer due to factors specific to an individual issuer, as opposed to general changes in global credit spreads. In this event, we consider such a decline in the investments fair value, to the extent below the investments cost or amortized cost, to be an other-than-temporary impairment of the investment and write the investment down to its fair value and record a realized loss in our consolidated statements of earnings. The determination of whether an impairment is other than temporary is subjective and involves the consideration of various factors and circumstances, which includes but is not limited to the following:
Another factor we consider in determining whether a decline in value is other than temporary is an evaluation of our intent and/or need to sell the investment prior to its anticipated recovery in fair value. We perform ongoing analyses of our liquidity needs, which include cash flow testing of our policy liabilities, debt maturities, projected dividend payments and other cash flow and liquidity needs. Our cash flows from operations have been substantial over the last three years, growing from $5.0 billion in 2008 to $6.2 billion in 2009 and to $7.0 billion in 2010.
Lack of availability of acceptable yen-denominated investments could adversely affect our profits.
We attempt to match the duration of our assets with the duration of our liabilities. At December 31, 2010, the average duration of Aflac Japans policy liabilities was approximately 14 years and the average duration of its yen-denominated debt and perpetual securities was approximately 12 years. The duration of the perpetual securities is based upon their economic maturity dates. Since the securities have no fixed maturity date, there is no assurance that the securities will be repaid on the dates assumed. When the principal of our debt securities or perpetual securities is repaid, there is a risk that the proceeds will be reinvested at a yield below that of the interest required for the accretion of policy liabilities. Our net investment income has been negatively affected by the low level of investment yields in Japan in the last three years.
The concentration of our investment portfolios in any particular sector of the economy may have an adverse effect on our financial position or results of operations.
The concentration of our investment portfolios in any particular industry, group of related industries or geographic sector could have an adverse effect on our investment portfolios and, consequently, on our results of operations and financial position. Events or developments that have a negative impact on any particular industry, group of related industries or geographic sector may have a greater adverse effect on the investment portfolios to the extent that the portfolios are concentrated rather than diversified. At December 31, 2010, approximately 34% of our total portfolio of debt and perpetual securities was in the bank and financial institution sector.
Our concentration of business in Japan poses risks to our operations.
Our operations in Japan, including realized gains and losses on the Japan investment portfolio, accounted for 75%, 73% and 72% of our total revenues for 2010, 2009 and 2008, respectively. The Japanese operations accounted for 86% of our total assets at December 31, 2010, compared with 85% at December 31, 2009. The Bank of Japans January 2011 Monthly Report of Recent Economic and Financial Developments stated that Japans economy still shows signs of moderate recovery, however the recovery pace has slowed; that the employment and income situation has been depressed, but seems to be easing; that exports have been weak, but are expected to increase moderately; and that private consumption is expected to pick up. The report projected that Japans economy is expected to gradually return to a moderate recovery path. A potential deterioration in Japans economic recovery could have an adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.
We operate in an industry that is subject to ongoing changes.
We operate in a competitive environment and in an industry that is subject to ongoing changes from market pressures brought about by customer demands, legislative reform, marketing practices and changes to health care and health insurance delivery. These factors require us to anticipate market trends and make changes to differentiate our products and services from those of our competitors. We also face the potential of competition from existing or new companies in the United States and Japan that have not historically been active in the supplemental health insurance industry. Failure to anticipate market trends and/or to differentiate our products and services can affect our ability to retain or grow profitable lines of business.
We are exposed to significant financial and capital markets risk which may adversely affect our results of operations, financial condition and liquidity, and our net investment income can vary from period to period.
We are exposed to significant financial and capital markets risk, including changes in foreign currency, interest rates, real estate markets, market volatility, the performance of the economy in general, the performance of the specific obligors included in our investment portfolio and other factors outside our control.
Foreign Currency Risk
Due to the size of Aflac Japan, where our functional currency is the Japanese yen, fluctuations in the yen/dollar exchange rate can have a significant effect on our reported financial position and results of operations. Aflac Japans premiums and most of its investment income are received in yen. Claims and expenses are paid in yen, and we primarily purchase yen-denominated assets to support yen-denominated policy liabilities. These and other yen-denominated financial statement items are, however, translated into dollars for financial reporting purposes. Accordingly, fluctuations in the yen/dollar exchange rate can have a significant effect on our reported financial position and results of operations. In periods when the yen weakens, translating yen into dollars causes fewer dollars to be reported. When the yen strengthens, translating yen into dollars causes more dollars to be reported. Any unrealized foreign currency translation adjustments are reported in accumulated other comprehensive income. As a result, yen weakening has the effect of suppressing current year results in relation to the prior year, while yen strengthening has the effect of magnifying current year results in relation to the prior year. In addition, the weakening of the yen relative to the dollar will generally adversely affect the value of our yen-denominated investments in dollar terms. Foreign currency translation also impacts the computation of our risk-based capital ratio because Aflac Japan is consolidated in our U.S. statutory filings due to its status as a branch. Our required capital, as determined by the application of risk factors to our assets and liabilities, is proportionately more sensitive to changes in the exchange rate than our total adjusted capital. As a result, when the yen strengthens relative to the dollar, our risk-based capital ratio is suppressed. We engage in certain foreign currency hedging activities for the purpose of hedging the yen exposure to our net investment in our branch operations in Japan. These hedging activities are limited in scope and we cannot provide assurance that these activities will be effective or that counterparties to these activities will perform their obligations.
Additionally, we are exposed to economic currency risk when yen cash flows are converted into dollars, resulting in an increase or decrease in our earnings when exchange gains or losses are realized. This primarily occurs when we repatriate funds from Aflac Japan to Aflac U.S., which is generally done on an annual basis. The exchange rates prevailing at the time of repatriation may differ from the exchange rates prevailing at the time the yen profits were earned.
Interest Rate Risk
We have substantial investment portfolios that support our policy liabilities. Low levels of interest rates on investments, such as those experienced in Japan and the United States during recent years, have reduced the level of investment income earned by the Company. Slower investment income growth will occur if a low-interest-rate environment persists. While we generally seek to maintain a diversified portfolio of fixed-income investments that reflects the cash flow and duration characteristics of the liabilities it supports, we may not be able to fully mitigate the interest rate risk of our assets relative to our liabilities. Our exposure to interest rate risk relates primarily to the ability to invest future cash flows to support the interest rate assumption made at the time our products were priced and the related reserving assumptions were established. A rise in interest rates would improve our ability to earn higher rates of return on funds that we reinvest. Conversely, a decline in interest rates would impair our ability to earn the returns assumed in the pricing and the reserving for our products at the time they were sold and issued.
We also have an exposure to interest rates related to the value of the substantial investment portfolios that support our policy liabilities. A rise in interest rates would increase the net unrealized loss position of our debt and perpetual securities. Conversely, a decline in interest rates would decrease the net unrealized loss position of our debt and perpetual securities. While we generally invest our assets to match the duration and cash flow characteristics of our policy liabilities, and therefore would not expect to realize most of these gains or losses, our risk is that unforeseen events or economic conditions, such as changes in interest rates resulting from governmental monetary policies, domestic and international economic and political conditions, and other factors beyond our
control, reduce the effectiveness of this strategy and either cause us to dispose of some or all of these investments prior to their maturity, or cause the issuers of these securities to default, both of which would result in our having to recognize such gains or losses.
Significant, continued volatility, the strengthening or weakening of the yen against the dollar, changes in interest rates, changes in credit spreads and defaults, market liquidity and declines in equity prices, individually or in tandem, could have a material adverse effect on our consolidated results of operations, financial condition or cash flows through realized losses, impairments, and changes in unrealized positions.
For more information regarding foreign currency and interest rate risk, see the Currency Risk and Interest Rate Risk subsections within the Market Risks of Financial Instruments section in this Form 10-K.
If future policy benefits, claims or expenses exceed those anticipated in establishing premiums and reserves, our financial results would be adversely affected.
We establish and carry, as a liability, reserves based on estimates of how much will be required to pay for future benefits and claims. We calculate these reserves using various assumptions and estimates, including premiums we will receive over the assumed life of the policy; the timing, frequency and severity of the events covered by the insurance policy; and the investment returns on the assets we purchase with a portion of our net cash flow from operations. These assumptions and estimates are inherently uncertain. Accordingly, we cannot determine with precision the ultimate amounts that we will pay for, or the timing of payment of, actual benefits and claims or whether the assets supporting the policy liabilities will grow to the level we assume prior to payment of benefits or claims. If our actual experience is different from our assumptions or estimates, our reserves may prove inadequate. As a result, we would incur a charge to earnings in the period in which we determine such a shortfall exists, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
As a holding company, the Parent Company depends on the ability of its subsidiaries to transfer funds to it to meet its debt service and other obligations and to pay dividends on its common stock.
The Parent Company is a holding company and has no direct operations or significant assets other than the stock of its subsidiaries. Because we conduct our operations through our operating subsidiaries, we depend on those entities for dividends and other payments to generate the funds necessary to meet our debt service and other obligations and to pay dividends on our common stock. Aflac is domiciled in Nebraska and is subject to insurance regulations that impose certain limitations and restrictions on payments of dividends, management fees, loans and advances by Aflac to the Parent Company. The Nebraska insurance statutes require prior approval for dividend distributions that exceed the greater of the net income from operations, which excludes net realized investment gains, for the previous year determined under statutory accounting principles, or 10% of statutory capital and surplus as of the previous year-end. In addition, the Nebraska insurance department must approve service arrangements and other transactions within the affiliated group of companies. In addition, the FSA may not allow profit repatriations or other transfers from Aflac Japan if they would cause Aflac Japan to lack sufficient financial strength for the protection of policyholders.
The ability of Aflac to pay dividends or make other payments to the Parent Company could also be constrained by our dependence on financial strength ratings from independent rating agencies. Our ratings from these agencies depend to a large extent on Aflacs capitalization level. Any inability of Aflac to pay dividends or make other payments to the Parent Company could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. There is no assurance that the earnings from, or other available assets of, our operating subsidiaries will be sufficient to make distributions to us to enable us to operate.
Extensive regulation and changes in legislation can impact profitability and growth.
Aflacs insurance subsidiaries are subject to complex laws and regulations that are administered and enforced by a number of governmental authorities, including state insurance regulators, the SEC, the NAIC, the FSA and Ministry of Finance (MOF) in Japan, the U.S. Department of Justice, state attorneys general, and the Internal Revenue Service, each of which exercises a degree of interpretive latitude. Consequently, we are subject to the risk that compliance with any particular regulators or enforcement authoritys interpretation of a legal or regulatory issue
may not result in compliance with another regulators or enforcement authoritys interpretation of the same issue, particularly when compliance is judged in hindsight. There is also a risk that any particular regulators or enforcement authoritys interpretation of a legal or regulatory issue may change over time to our detriment. In addition, changes in the overall legal or regulatory environment may, even absent any particular regulators or enforcement authoritys interpretation of an issue changing, cause us to change our views regarding the actions we need to take from a legal or regulatory risk management perspective, thus necessitating changes to our practices that may, in some cases, limit our ability to grow or otherwise negatively impact the profitability of our business.
The primary purpose of insurance company regulatory supervision is the protection of insurance policyholders, rather than investors. The extent of regulation varies, but generally is governed by state statutes in the United States and by the FSA and the MOF in Japan. These systems of supervision and regulation cover, among other things:
State insurance regulators and the NAIC regularly re-examine existing laws and regulations applicable to insurance companies and their products. Changes in these laws and regulations, or in interpretations thereof, could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
New federal legislation and administrative policies in several areas, including health care reform legislation, financial services reform legislation, securities regulation, pension regulation, privacy, tort reform legislation and taxation, can significantly and adversely affect insurance companies. Various forms of federal oversight and regulation of insurance have been passed by Congress and signed into law by the President. For example, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, federal health care reform legislation, gives the U.S. federal government direct regulatory authority over the business of health insurance. The reform includes major changes to the U.S. health care insurance marketplace. Among other changes, the reform legislation includes an individual medical insurance coverage mandate, provides for penalties on certain employers for failing to provide adequate coverage, creates health insurance exchanges, and addresses coverage and exclusions as well as medical loss ratios. The legislation also includes changes in government reimbursements and tax credits for individuals and employers and alters federal and state regulation of health insurers. These changes will be phased in over the next several years and are directed toward major medical health insurance coverage, which Aflac does not offer. Accordingly, our products are not subject to or covered under the major provisions of the new legislation as enacted. However, indirect consequences of the legislation and yet-to-be implemented regulations could potentially have an impact on our financial condition and results of operations.
In July 2010, President Obama signed into law the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, commonly known as the Dodd-Frank Act, which, among other things, created a Financial Stability and Oversight Council. The Council may designate by a two-thirds vote whether certain insurance companies and insurance
holding companies pose a grave threat to the financial stability of the United States, in which case such nonbank financial companies would become subject to prudential regulation by the Board of Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve, including capital requirements, leverage limits, liquidity requirements and examinations. The Board may limit such companys ability to enter into merger transactions, restrict its ability to offer financial products, require it to terminate one or more activities, or impose conditions on the manner in which it conducts activities. The Dodd-Frank Act also established a Federal Insurance Office under the U.S. Treasury Department to monitor all aspects of the insurance industry and of lines of business other than certain health insurance, certain long-term care insurance and crop insurance. The director of the Federal Insurance Office will have the ability to recommend that an insurance company or an insurance holding company be subject to heightened prudential standards. The Dodd-Frank Act requires extensive rule-making and other future regulatory action, which in some cases will take a period of years to implement.
At the current time, it is not possible to predict with any degree of certainty whether any other proposed legislation or regulatory changes will be adopted or what impact, if any, these new laws, or any future regulation, will have on our U.S. business, financial condition, or results of operations.
Compliance with applicable laws and regulations is time consuming and personnel-intensive, and changes in these laws and regulations may materially increase our direct and indirect compliance and other expenses of doing business, thus having a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
Sales of our products and services are dependent on our ability to attract, retain and support a network of qualified sales associates.
Our sales could be adversely affected if our sales networks deteriorate or if we do not adequately provide support, training and education for our existing network. Competition exists for sales associates with demonstrated ability. We compete with other insurers and financial institutions primarily on the basis of our products, compensation, support services and financial rating. An inability to attract and retain qualified sales associates could have a material adverse effect on sales and our results of operations and financial condition. Our sales associates are independent contractors and may sell products of our competitors. If our competitors offer products that are more attractive than ours, or pay higher commissions than we do, these sales associates may concentrate their efforts on selling our competitors products instead of ours.
Any decrease in our financial strength or debt ratings may have an adverse effect on our competitive position.
Financial strength ratings are important factors in establishing the competitive position of insurance companies and generally have an effect on the business of insurance companies. On an ongoing basis, Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organizations (NRSROs) review the financial performance and condition of insurers and may downgrade or change the outlook on an insurers ratings due to, for example, a change in an insurers statutory capital; a change in a rating agencys determination of the amount of risk-adjusted capital required to maintain a particular rating; an increase in the perceived risk of an insurers investment portfolio; a reduced confidence in management; or other considerations that may or may not be under the insurers control.
In addition to financial strength ratings, various NRSROs also publish ratings on our debt. These ratings are indicators of a debt issuers ability to meet the terms of debt obligations in a timely manner and are important factors in our ability to access liquidity in the debt markets. Downgrades in our credit ratings could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations in many ways, including adversely limiting our access to capital markets and potentially increasing the cost of debt.
In view of the difficulties experienced recently by many financial institutions, including in the insurance industry, we believe it is possible that the NRSROs will heighten the level of scrutiny that they apply to such institutions, will increase the frequency and scope of their reviews, will request additional information from the companies that they rate, including additional information regarding the valuation of investment securities held, and may increase the capital and other requirements employed in their models for maintenance of certain rating levels.
A downgrade in any of these ratings could have a material adverse effect on agent recruiting and retention, sales, competitiveness and the marketability of our products which could negatively impact our liquidity, operating results and financial condition. Additionally, sales through the bank channel could be adversely affected as a result of their reliance and sensitivity to ratings levels.
We cannot predict what actions rating agencies may take, or what actions we may take in response to the actions of rating agencies, which could adversely affect our business. As with other companies in the financial services industry, our ratings could be downgraded at any time and without any notice by any NRSRO.
The success of our business depends in part on effective information technology systems and on continuing to develop and implement improvements in technology; certain significant multiyear strategic information technology projects are currently in process.
Our business depends in large part on our technology systems for interacting with employers, policyholders and sales associates, and our business strategy involves providing customers with easy-to-use products to meet their needs. Some of our information technology systems and software are older, legacy-type systems that are less efficient and require an ongoing commitment of significant resources to maintain or upgrade to current standards (including adequate business continuity procedures). While we are in a continual state of upgrading and enhancing our business systems, changes are always challenging in a complex integrated environment. Our success is dependent in large part on maintaining or improving the effectiveness of existing systems and continuing to develop and enhance information systems that support our business processes in a cost-efficient manner.
Changes in accounting standards issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) or other standard-setting bodies may adversely affect our financial statements.
Our financial statements are subject to the application of generally accepted accounting principles in both the United States and Japan, which are periodically revised and/or expanded. Accordingly, from time to time we are required to adopt new or revised accounting standards issued by recognized authoritative bodies, including the FASB. It is possible that future accounting standards we are required to adopt could change the current accounting treatment that we apply to our consolidated financial statements and that such changes could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.
The FASB and International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) have announced their commitment to achieving a single set of high-quality global accounting standards, and the SEC continues to encourage the convergence of U.S. GAAP and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) in order to narrow the differences between the two sets of standards. In 2010, the SEC announced a Work Plan, the results of which will aid the Commission in its evaluation of the impact that the use of IFRS by U.S. companies would have on the U.S. securities market. Included in this Work Plan is consideration of IFRS, as it exists today and after the completion of various convergence projects currently underway between U.S. and international accounting standards-setters. In October 2010, the SEC issued its first progress report on the Work Plan, summarizing the objectives as well as the efforts and preliminary observations as of that time. In addition to considering the information obtained through execution of the Work Plan, the SEC will assess the progress on the FASBs and IASBs current convergence projects before deciding in 2011 on whether to incorporate IFRS into the U.S. financial reporting system, and if so, when and how. If the SEC determines in 2011 to incorporate IFRS into the U.S. financial reporting system, the first time that U.S. companies would report under such a system would be no earlier than 2015. For the insurance industry, key components of the convergence between U. S. GAAP and IFRS have yet to be clarified. The FASB and IASB are currently working on a joint insurance contracts project that will change the way insurance liabilities are determined and reported. The FASB has issued a discussion paper on the topic, and the IASB intends to issue a final standard in December 2011. We are monitoring these developments closely. The adoption of IFRS and/or the effects of accounting standards convergence could significantly alter the presentation of our financial position and results of operations in our financial statements.
See Note 1 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in this Form 10-K for a discussion of recent changes in accounting standards that are pending adoption.
If we fail to comply with restrictions on patient privacy and information security, including taking steps to ensure that our business associates who obtain access to sensitive patient information maintain its confidentiality, our reputation and business operations could be materially adversely affected.
The collection, maintenance, use, disclosure and disposal of individually identifiable data by our businesses are regulated at the international, federal and state levels. These laws and rules are subject to change by legislation or administrative or judicial interpretation. Various state laws address the use and disclosure of individually identifiable health data to the extent they are more restrictive than those contained in the privacy and security provisions in the federal Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 (GLBA) and in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). HIPAA also requires that we impose privacy and security requirements on our business associates (as such term is defined in the HIPAA regulations).
Even though we provide for appropriate protections through our contracts with business associates, we still have limited control over their actions and practices. In addition, despite the security measures we have in place to ensure compliance with applicable laws and rules, our facilities and systems, and those of our third-party providers may be vulnerable to security breaches, acts of vandalism or theft, computer viruses, misplaced or lost data, programming and/or human errors or other similar events. Congress and many states are considering new privacy and security requirements that would apply to our business. Compliance with new privacy and security laws, requirements, and new regulations may result in cost increases due to necessary systems changes, new limitations or constraints on our business models, the development of new administrative processes, and the effects of potential noncompliance by our business associates. They also may impose further restrictions on our collection, disclosure and use of patient identifiable data that are housed in one or more of our administrative databases. Noncompliance with any privacy laws or any security breach involving the misappropriation, loss or other unauthorized disclosure of sensitive or confidential member information, whether by us or by one of our vendors, could have a material adverse effect on our business, reputation and results of operations, including: material fines and penalties; compensatory, special, punitive and statutory damages; consent orders regarding our privacy and security practices; adverse actions against our licenses to do business; and injunctive relief.
We face risks related to litigation.
We are a defendant in various lawsuits considered to be in the normal course of business. Members of our senior legal and financial management teams review litigation on a quarterly and annual basis. The final results of any litigation cannot be predicted with certainty. Although some of this litigation is pending in states where large punitive damages, bearing little relation to the actual damages sustained by plaintiffs, have been awarded in recent years, we believe the outcome of pending litigation will not have a material adverse effect on our financial position, results of operations, or cash flows. However, litigation could adversely affect us because of the costs of defending these cases, costs of settlement or judgments against us or because of changes in our operations that could result from litigation.
Managing key executive succession is critical to our success.
We would be adversely affected if we fail to adequately plan for succession of our senior management and other key executives. While we have succession plans and employment arrangements with certain key executives, these cannot guarantee that the services of these executives will be available to us, and our operations could be adversely affected if they are not.
Any event, including one external to our operations, could damage our reputation.
Because insurance products are intangible, we rely to a large extent on consumer trust in our business. The perception of financial weakness could create doubt regarding our ability to honor the commitments we have made to our policyholders. Maintaining our stature as a responsible corporate citizen, which helps support the strength of our unique brand, is critical to our reputation and the failure or perceived failure to do so could adversely affect us.
We also face other risks that could adversely affect our business, results of operations or financial condition, which include:
In the United States, Aflac owns land and buildings that comprise two primary campuses located in Columbus, Georgia. These campuses include buildings that serve as our worldwide headquarters and house administrative support and information technology functions for our U.S. operations. Aflac also owns land and office buildings in Columbia, South Carolina, which house our CAIC subsidiary. Aflac leases additional administrative office space in Georgia, New York, and Nebraska.
In Tokyo, Japan, Aflac has two primary campuses. The first campus includes a building, owned by Aflac, for the customer call center, information technology departments, and training facility. It also includes a leased property, which houses our policy administration and customer service departments. The second campus comprises leased space, which serves as our Japan branch headquarters and houses administrative support functions for the Japan branch. Aflac also leases additional office space in Tokyo, along with regional offices located throughout the country.
We are a defendant in various lawsuits considered to be in the normal course of business. Members of our senior legal and financial management teams review litigation on a quarterly and annual basis. The final results of any litigation cannot be predicted with certainty. Although some of this litigation is pending in states where large punitive damages, bearing little relation to the actual damages sustained by plaintiffs, have been awarded in recent years, we believe the outcome of pending litigation will not have a material adverse effect on our financial position, results of operations, or cash flows.
Aflac Incorporateds common stock is principally traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AFL. Our stock is also listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The quarterly high and low market prices for the Companys common stock, as reported on the New York Stock Exchange for the two years ended December 31 were as follows:
Quarterly Common Stock Prices
As of February 17, 2011, there were 86,688 holders of record of the Companys common stock.
In February 2011, the board of directors declared the first quarter 2011 cash dividend of $.30 per share. The dividend is payable on March 1, 2011, to shareholders of record at the close of business on February 15, 2011. The declaration and payment of future dividends to holders of our common stock will be at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend upon many factors, including our financial condition, earnings, capital requirements of our operating subsidiaries, legal requirements, regulatory constraints and other factors as the board of directors deems relevant. There can be no assurance that we will declare and pay any additional or future dividends. For information concerning dividend restrictions, see Regulatory Restrictions in the Capital Resources and Liquidity section of the MD&A and Note 12 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements presented in this report.
Stock Performance Graph
The following graph compares the five-year performance of the Companys common stock to the Standard & Poors 500 Index (S&P 500) and the Standard & Poors Life and Health Insurance Index (S&P Life and Health). The Standard & Poors Life and Health Insurance Index includes: Aflac Incorporated, Lincoln National Corporation, MetLife Inc., Principal Financial Group Inc., Prudential Financial Inc., Torchmark Corporation and Unum Group.
Performance Graphic Index
Copyright© 2010 Standard & Poors, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. All rights reserved. (www.researchdatagroup.com/S&P.htm)
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
During the fourth quarter of 2010, we repurchased shares of Aflac common stock as follows:
Aflac Incorporated and Subsidiaries
Years Ended December 31,
Aflac Incorporated and Subsidiaries
The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 provides a safe harbor to encourage companies to provide prospective information, so long as those informational statements are identified as forward-looking and are accompanied by meaningful cautionary statements identifying important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those included in the forward-looking statements. We desire to take advantage of these provisions. This report contains cautionary statements identifying important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected herein, and in any other statements made by Company officials in communications with the financial community and contained in documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Forward-looking statements are not based on historical information and relate to future operations, strategies, financial results or other developments. Furthermore, forward-looking information is subject to numerous assumptions, risks and uncertainties. In particular, statements containing words such as expect, anticipate, believe, goal, objective, may, should, estimate, intends, projects, will, assumes, potential, target or similar words as well as specific projections of future results, generally qualify as forward-looking. Aflac undertakes no obligation to update such forward-looking statements.
We caution readers that the following factors, in addition to other factors mentioned from time to time, could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated by the forward-looking statements:
Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (MD&A) is intended to inform the reader about matters affecting the financial condition and results of operations of Aflac Incorporated and its subsidiaries for the three-year period ended December 31, 2010. As a result, the following discussion should be read in conjunction with the related consolidated financial statements and notes. This MD&A is divided into the following sections:
Aflac Incorporated (the Parent Company) and its subsidiaries (collectively, the Company) primarily sell supplemental health and life insurance in the United States and Japan. The Companys insurance business is marketed and administered through American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus (Aflac), which operates in the United States (Aflac U.S.) and as a branch in Japan (Aflac Japan). Most of Aflacs policies are individually underwritten and marketed through independent agents. Aflac U.S. markets and administers group products through Continental American Insurance Company (CAIC). Our insurance operations in the United States and our branch in Japan service the two markets for our insurance business.
Results for 2010 benefited from the stronger yen/dollar exchange rate and lower realized investment losses. Total revenues rose 13.6% to $20.7 billion, compared with $18.3 billion a year ago. Net earnings were $2.3 billion, or $4.95 per diluted share, compared with $1.5 billion, or $3.19 per diluted share, in 2009.
We experienced pretax net realized investment losses of $422 million ($274 million after-tax) in 2010, which included $459 million ($298 million after-tax) of other-than-temporary impairments and $1 million ($.7 million after-tax) of net derivative losses. Shareholders equity at December 31, 2010, included a net unrealized gain on investment securities (including derivatives) of $64 million, compared with a net unrealized loss of $640 million at December 31, 2009.
In 2010, we issued a total of $750 million in dollar-denominated senior notes raised through U.S. public debt offerings. In July, we paid $447 million to redeem 39.4 billion yen of our Samurai notes upon their maturity. We resumed stock repurchase activity in the fourth quarter of 2010 by purchasing a total of 2.0 million shares of our common stock in the open market.
CRITICAL ACCOUNTING ESTIMATES
We prepare our financial statements in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). These principles are established primarily by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). In this MD&A, references to GAAP issued by the FASB are derived from the FASB Accounting Standards CodificationTM (ASC). The preparation of financial statements in conformity with GAAP requires us to make estimates based on currently available information when recording transactions resulting from business operations. The estimates that we deem to be most critical to an understanding of Aflacs results of operations and financial condition are those related to the valuation of investments and derivatives, deferred policy acquisition costs, liabilities for future policy benefits and unpaid policy claims, and income taxes. The preparation and evaluation of these critical accounting estimates involve the use of various assumptions developed from managements analyses and judgments. The application of
these critical accounting estimates determines the values at which 95% of our assets and 86% of our liabilities are reported as of December 31, 2010, and thus has a direct effect on net earnings and shareholders equity. Subsequent experience or use of other assumptions could produce significantly different results.
Investments and Derivatives
Aflacs investments in debt, perpetual and equity securities include both publicly issued and privately issued securities. For privately issued securities, we receive pricing data from external sources that take into account each securitys credit quality and liquidity characteristics. We also routinely review our investments that have experienced declines in fair value to determine if the decline is other than temporary. These reviews are performed with consideration of the facts and circumstances of an issuer in accordance with applicable accounting guidance. The identification of distressed investments, the determination of fair value if not publicly traded, and the assessment of whether a decline is other than temporary involve significant management judgment and require evaluation of factors, including but not limited to:
Our derivatives are primarily interest rate, foreign currency and credit default swaps that are associated with investments in special-purpose entities, including variable interest entities (VIEs) where we are the primary beneficiary. These interest rate swaps and certain foreign currency swaps are priced by broker quotations using inputs that are observable in the market. Inputs used to value derivatives include, but are not limited to, interest rates, foreign currency forward and spot rates, credit spreads, and interest volatility. For our credit default swaps and certain foreign currency swaps, there are limited or no observable valuation inputs. We estimate the fair value of these instruments by obtaining broker quotes from a limited number of brokers. These brokers base their quotes on a combination of their knowledge of the current pricing environment and market conditions.
See Notes 1, 3, 4 and 5 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements for additional information.
Deferred Policy Acquisition Costs and Policy Liabilities
Aflacs products are generally long-duration fixed-benefit indemnity contracts. We make estimates of certain factors that affect the profitability of our business to match expected policy benefits and deferrable acquisition costs with expected policy premiums. These assumptions include persistency, morbidity, mortality, investment yields and expenses. If actual results match the assumptions used in establishing policy liabilities and the deferral and amortization of acquisition costs, profits will emerge as a level percentage of earned premiums. However, because actual results will vary from the assumptions, profits as a percentage of earned premiums will vary from year to year.
We measure the adequacy of our policy reserves and recoverability of deferred policy acquisition costs (DAC) annually by performing gross premium valuations on our business. Our testing indicates that our insurance liabilities are adequate and that our DAC is recoverable.
Deferred Policy Acquisition Costs
Certain costs of acquiring new business are deferred and amortized over the policys premium payment period in proportion to anticipated premium income. Future amortization of DAC is based upon our estimates of persistency, interest and future premium revenue generally established at the time of policy issuance. However, the unamortized balance of DAC reflects actual persistency.
As presented in the following table, the ratio of unamortized DAC to annualized premiums in force has shown a slight upward trend for Aflac Japan for the last three years. This trend is a result of a greater proportion of our annualized premiums being under the alternative commission schedule, which pays a higher commission on first-year premiums and lower commissions on renewal premiums. This schedule is very popular with our new agents as it helps them with cash flow for personal and business needs as they build their business. While this has resulted in a higher unamortized DAC balance, the overall cost to the Company has been reduced. The ratio of unamortized DAC to annualized premiums in force has also increased for Aflac U.S. for the last three years. The increase has been primarily driven by a greater proportion of our annualized premiums being under an accelerated commission schedule for new associates and was also impacted by the loss of a large payroll account in 2010 which had a lower ratio of DAC to annualized premiums in force.
Deferred Policy Acquisition Cost Ratios
The following table provides details of policy liabilities by segment and in total as of December 31.
Our policy liabilities, which are determined in accordance with applicable guidelines as defined under GAAP and Actuarial Standards of Practice, include two components that involve analysis and judgment: future policy benefits and unpaid policy claims, which accounted for 87% and 5% of total policy liabilities as of December 31, 2010, respectively.
Future policy benefits provide for claims that will occur in the future and are generally calculated as the present value of future expected benefits to be incurred less the present value of future expected net benefit premiums. We calculate future policy benefits based on assumptions of morbidity, mortality, persistency and interest. These
assumptions are generally established at the time a policy is issued. The assumptions used in the calculations are closely related to those used in developing the gross premiums for a policy. As required by GAAP, we also include a provision for adverse deviation, which is intended to accommodate adverse fluctuations in actual experience.
Unpaid policy claims include those claims that have been incurred and are in the process of payment as well as an estimate of those claims that have been incurred but have not yet been reported to us. We compute unpaid policy claims on a non-discounted basis using statistical analyses of historical claims payments, adjusted for current trends and changed conditions. We update the assumptions underlying the estimate of unpaid policy claims regularly and incorporate our historical experience as well as other data that provides information regarding our outstanding liability.
Our insurance products provide fixed-benefit amounts per occurrence that are not subject to medical-cost inflation. Furthermore, our business is widely dispersed in both the United States and Japan. This geographic dispersion and the nature of our benefit structure mitigate the risk of a significant unexpected increase in claims payments due to epidemics and events of a catastrophic nature. Claims incurred under Aflacs policies are generally reported and paid in a relatively short time frame. The unpaid claims liability is sensitive to morbidity assumptions, in particular, severity and frequency of claims. Severity is the ultimate size of a claim, and frequency is the number of claims incurred. Our claims experience is primarily related to the demographics of our policyholders.
As a part of our established financial reporting and accounting practices and controls, we perform actuarial reviews of our policyholder liabilities on an ongoing basis and reflect the results of those reviews in our results of operations and financial condition as required by GAAP.
Our fourth quarter 2010 review indicated that we needed to strengthen the liability for a closed block of dementia policies in Japan, primarily due to low interest rate yields. We strengthened our future policy benefits liability by $93 million for this closed block of policies.
In computing the estimate of unpaid policy claims, we consider many factors, including the benefits and amounts available under the policy; the volume and demographics of the policies exposed to claims; and internal business practices, such as incurred date assignment and current claim administrative practices. We monitor these conditions closely and make adjustments to the liability as actual experience emerges. Claim levels are generally stable from period to period; however, fluctuations in claim levels may occur. In calculating the unpaid policy claim liability, we do not calculate a range of estimates. The following table shows the expected sensitivity of the unpaid policy claims liability as of December 31, 2010, to changes in severity and frequency of claims. For the years 2008 through 2010, our assumptions changed on average by approximately 1% in total, and we believe that a variation in assumptions in a range of plus or minus 1% in total is reasonably likely to occur.
Sensitivity of Unpaid Policy Claims Liability
The table below reflects the growth of future policy benefits liability for the years ended December 31.
Future Policy Benefits
The growth of the future policy benefits liability in dollars has been primarily due to the aging of our in-force block of business and the addition of new business in Japan. This growth in dollars was enhanced by the strengthening of the yen against the U.S. dollar in 2010 and 2008; however, it was offset in 2009 by the weakening of the yen against the U.S. dollar.
Income tax provisions are generally based on pretax earnings reported for financial statement purposes, which differ from those amounts used in preparing our income tax returns. Deferred income taxes are recognized for temporary differences between the financial reporting basis and income tax basis of assets and liabilities, based on enacted tax laws and statutory tax rates applicable to the periods in which we expect the temporary differences to reverse. The evaluation of a tax position in accordance with GAAP is a two-step process. Under the first step, the enterprise determines whether it is more likely than not that a tax position will be sustained upon examination by taxing authorities. The second step is measurement, whereby a tax position that meets the more-likely-than-not recognition threshold is measured to determine the amount of benefit to recognize in the financial statements.
See Note 9 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements for additional information.
New Accounting Pronouncements
During the last three years, various accounting standard-setting bodies have been active in soliciting comments and issuing statements, interpretations and exposure drafts. For information on new accounting pronouncements and the impact, if any, on our financial position or results of operations, see Note 1 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.
RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
The following table is a presentation of items impacting net earnings and net earnings per diluted share for the years ended December 31.
Items Impacting Net Earnings
Realized Investment Gains and Losses
Our investment strategy is to invest in fixed-income securities to provide a reliable stream of investment income, which is one of the drivers of the Companys profitability. This investment strategy aligns our assets with our liability structure, which our assets support. We do not purchase securities with the intent of generating capital gains or losses. However, investment gains and losses may be realized as a result of changes in the financial markets and the creditworthiness of specific issuers, tax planning strategies, and/or general portfolio maintenance and rebalancing. The realization of investment gains and losses is independent of the underwriting and administration of our insurance products, which are the principal drivers of our profitability.
Securities Transactions and Impairments
In 2010, we realized pretax investment losses of $459 million ($298 million after-tax) as a result of the recognition of other-than-temporary impairment losses. We realized pretax investment gains, net of losses, of $38 million ($25 million after-tax) from securities sold or redeemed in the normal course of business.
In 2009, we realized pretax investment losses of $1,361 million ($884 million after-tax) as a result of the recognition of other-than-temporary impairment losses. We realized pretax investment losses of $101 million ($66 million after-tax) from the exchange of certain perpetual security investments into fixed-maturity securities. The losses were partially offset by pretax investment gains of $250 million ($162 million after-tax) that were generated primarily from a bond-swap program that took advantage of tax loss carryforwards.
In 2008, we realized pretax investment losses of $753 million ($489 million after-tax) as a result of the recognition of other-than-temporary impairment losses. We also realized pretax investment losses, net of gains, of $254 million ($166 million after-tax) from securities sold or redeemed in the normal course of business.
The following table details our pretax impairment losses by investment category for the years ended December 31.
Impact from ASC 810
Effective January 1, 2010, we adopted updated accounting guidance in ASC 810, Consolidation, which resulted in the consolidation of certain VIEs in which we have an investment. Upon consolidation, the beneficial interest in these VIEs was derecognized and the underlying collateral assets (fixed-maturity securities and perpetual securities) and corresponding foreign currency, interest rate and credit default swaps were recognized. The change in value of the swaps is recorded through current period earnings, and the change in value of the available-for-sale fixed-maturity and perpetual securities associated with these swaps is recorded through other comprehensive income. During the year ended December 31, 2010, we realized pretax investment losses, net of gains, of $1 million ($.7 million after-tax) from valuing foreign currency, interest rate and credit default swaps related to our consolidated VIEs.
For additional information regarding realized investment gains and losses, see Notes 3 and 4 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.
Impact from ASC 815
For a description of items that would be included in the Impact from ASC 815, Derivatives and Hedging, see the Hedging Activities subsection of MD&A and Notes 4 and 8 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.
We did not extinguish any debt during 2010. During 2009, we extinguished portions of our yen-denominated Uridashi and Samurai debt by buying the notes on the open market. We realized a total gain from extinguishment of debt of 1.6 billion yen, or $17 million ($11 million after-tax), which we included in other income.
Foreign Currency Translation
Aflac Japans premiums and most of its investment income are received in yen. Claims and expenses are paid in yen, and we primarily purchase yen-denominated assets to support yen-denominated policy liabilities. These and other yen-denominated financial statement items are translated into dollars for financial reporting purposes. We translate Aflac Japans yen-denominated income statement into dollars using an average exchange rate for the reporting period, and we translate its yen-denominated balance sheet using the exchange rate at the end of the period. However, it is important to distinguish between translating and converting foreign currency. Except for a limited number of transactions, we do not actually convert yen into dollars.
Due to the size of Aflac Japan, where our functional currency is the Japanese yen, fluctuations in the yen/dollar exchange rate can have a significant effect on our reported results. In periods when the yen weakens, translating yen into dollars results in fewer dollars being reported. When the yen strengthens, translating yen into dollars results in more dollars being reported. Consequently, yen weakening has the effect of suppressing current year results in relation to the prior year, while yen strengthening has the effect of magnifying current year results in relation to the prior year. As a result, we view foreign currency translation as a financial reporting issue for Aflac and not an economic event to our Company or shareholders. Because changes in exchange rates distort the growth rates of our operations, management evaluates Aflacs financial performance excluding the impact of foreign currency translation.
Our combined U.S. and Japanese effective income tax rate on pretax earnings was 34.6% in 2010, 33.0% in 2009 and 34.5% in 2008. The effective tax rate declined in 2009 due primarily to the settlement of an examination by the Internal Revenue Service that reduced the ASC 740 tax liability by $24 million. Total income taxes were $1.2 billion in 2010, compared with $738 million in 2009 and $660 million in 2008. Japanese income taxes on Aflac Japans results account for most of our consolidated income tax expense. See Note 9 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements for additional information.
We communicate earnings guidance in this report based on the growth in net earnings per diluted share. However, certain items that cannot be predicted or that are outside of managements control may have a significant impact on actual results. Therefore, our comparison of net earnings includes certain assumptions to reflect the limitations that are inherent in projections of net earnings. In comparing period-over-period results, we exclude the effect of realized investment gains and losses (securities transactions, impairments, and the impact from ASC 810), the impact from ASC 815, and nonrecurring items. We also assume no impact from foreign currency translation on the Aflac Japan segment and the Parent Companys yen-denominated interest expense for a given year in relation to the prior year.
Subject to the preceding assumptions, our objective for 2010 was to increase net earnings per diluted share by 9% to 12% over 2009. We reported 2010 net earnings per diluted share of $4.95. Adjusting that number for realized investment losses ($.58 per diluted share), the impact from ASC 815 (nil per diluted share), and foreign currency translation (a gain of $.19 per diluted share), we met our objective for the year.
Our objective for 2011 is to increase net earnings per diluted share by 8% to 12% over 2010, excluding the effect of realized investment gains and losses, the impact from ASC 815, nonrecurring items, and foreign currency translation. If we achieve our objective, the following table shows the likely results for 2011 net earnings per diluted share, including the impact of foreign currency translation using various yen/dollar exchange rate scenarios.
2011 Net Earnings Per Share (EPS) Scenarios(1)
If interest rates remain at historically low levels, earnings growth in 2011 would likely be at the low end of the 8% to 12% range. If we assume 8% earnings per share growth, we would earn $5.97 per diluted share, excluding the effect of realized investment gains and losses, the impact from ASC 815, nonrecurring items, and foreign currency translation. If the yen/dollar exchange rate averages 80 to 85 for the full year, we would expect reported net earnings to be in the range of $6.09 to $6.34 per diluted share, on the basis described above.
Aflacs insurance business consists of two segments: Aflac Japan and Aflac U.S. Aflac Japan, which operates as a branch of Aflac, is the principal contributor to consolidated earnings. GAAP financial reporting requires that a company report financial and descriptive information about operating segments in its annual financial statements. Furthermore, we are required to report a measure of segment profit or loss, certain revenue and expense items, and segment assets.
We measure and evaluate our insurance segments financial performance using operating earnings on a pretax basis. We define segment operating earnings as the profits we derive from our operations before realized investment gains and losses (securities transactions, impairments, and the impact from ASC 810), the impact from ASC 815, and nonrecurring items. We believe that an analysis of segment pretax operating earnings is vitally important to an understanding of the underlying profitability drivers and trends of our insurance business. Furthermore, because a significant portion of our business is conducted in Japan, we believe it is equally important to understand the impact of translating Japanese yen into U.S. dollars.
We evaluate our sales efforts using new annualized premium sales, an industry operating measure. New annualized premium sales, which include both new sales and the incremental increase in premiums due to conversions, represent the premiums that we would collect over a 12-month period, assuming the policies remain in force. For Aflac Japan, new annualized premium sales are determined by applications submitted during the reporting period. For Aflac U.S., new annualized premium sales are determined by applications that are issued during the reporting period. Premium income, or earned premiums, is a financial performance measure that reflects collected or due premiums that have been earned ratably on policies in force during the reporting period.
AFLAC JAPAN SEGMENT
Aflac Japan Pretax Operating Earnings
Changes in Aflac Japans pretax operating earnings and profit margins are primarily affected by morbidity, mortality, expenses, persistency and investment yields. The following table presents a summary of operating results for Aflac Japan for the years ended December 31.
Aflac Japan Summary of Operating Results
The percentage increases in premium income reflect the growth of premiums in force. The increases in annualized premiums in force in yen of 4.6% in 2010, 3.3% in 2009 and 3.2% in 2008 reflect the high persistency of Aflac Japans business and the sales of new policies. Annualized premiums in force at December 31, 2010, were 1.26 trillion yen, compared with 1.20 trillion yen in 2009 and 1.16 trillion yen in 2008. Annualized premiums in force, translated into dollars at respective year-end exchange rates, were $15.4 billion in 2010, $13.0 billion in 2009, and $12.8 billion in 2008.
Aflac Japan maintains a portfolio of dollar-denominated and reverse-dual currency securities (yen-denominated debt securities with dollar coupon payments). Dollar-denominated investment income from these assets accounted for approximately 33% of Aflac Japans investment income in 2010 and 2009, compared with 36% in 2008. In years when
the yen strengthens in relation to the dollar, translating Aflac Japans dollar-denominated investment income into yen lowers growth rates for net investment income, total operating revenues, and pretax operating earnings in yen terms. In years when the yen weakens, translating dollar-denominated investment income into yen magnifies growth rates for net investment income, total operating revenues, and pretax operating earnings in yen terms. On a constant currency basis, dollar-denominated investment income accounted for approximately 34% of Aflac Japans investment income during 2010, compared with 36% in 2009 and 39% in 2008. The following table illustrates the effect of translating Aflac Japans dollar-denominated investment income and related items into yen by comparing certain segment results with those that would have been reported had yen/dollar exchange rates remained unchanged from the prior year.
Aflac Japan Percentage Changes Over Prior Year
(Yen Operating Results)
The following table presents a summary of operating ratios for Aflac Japan for the years ended December 31.
The benefit ratio has declined over the past several years, driven primarily by favorable claim trends in our cancer product line. We expect this improvement to continue. However, this improvement is partially offset by the effect of low investment yields which impacts our profit margin by reducing the spread between investment yields and required interest on policy reserves (see table and discussion in the Interest Rate Risk section of this MD&A). Our operating ratios have also been impacted by strong sales results in our Ordinary products including Child Endowment and WAYS. These products have higher benefit ratios and lower expense ratios than our third sector products. Due to improvement in the benefit ratio and operating expense ratio, the pretax operating profit margin expanded in 2010. In 2011, we expect further improvement in the benefit and expense ratios, resulting in continued expansion in the profit margin.
Aflac Japan Sales
Our stated objective for 2010 was for sales to be flat to up 5%. We exceeded our objective with an 11.0% increase in sales during 2010. The following table presents Aflac Japans new annualized premium sales for the years ended December 31.
The following table details the contributions to new annualized premium sales by major insurance product for the years ended December 31.
The medical insurance product was the principal contributor to total sales for 2010. In 2010, we maintained our position as the number one seller of medical insurance policies in Japan. Medical insurance sales decreased 3.2% during 2010, compared with 2009, reflecting a difficult comparison to prior year sales which had benefited from the introduction of a new version of EVER, our popular medical product. In June 2010, we introduced a revision to Gentle EVER, our non-standard medical product. This new product offers more benefits than the original non-standard medical product that we began offering in 2007. We believe it will continue to meet the needs of certain consumers who cannot qualify for our base EVER plan. With continued cost pressure on Japans health care system, we expect the need for medical products will continue to rise in the future, and we remain encouraged about the outlook for the medical insurance market.
Cancer insurance sales declined 13.5% during 2010, compared with 2009; despite this decrease, we remained the number one seller of cancer insurance policies in Japan. We are convinced that the affordable cancer products Aflac Japan provides will continue to be an important part of our product portfolio. In June 2010, we introduced a product called Corsage, which is a female-specific rider to our cancer insurance product. In Japan, young women are more likely to suffer from cancer than young men. Corsage provides surgery benefits that address the high cost of treating female-specific cancers. As the number one provider of cancer insurance in Japan, we believe this new product will further strengthen our brand, and most importantly, provide valuable benefits to consumers who are looking for solutions to cancer-related costs.
The bank channel generated new annualized premium sales of 19.9 billion yen in 2010, an increase of 165.1% compared with 2009. As the bank channel has become a larger contributor to sales, Aflac Japan has enhanced its product portfolio to better meet the needs of banks. These products include our child endowment product and WAYS, a product that we first introduced in 2006 and introduced to the bank channel in 2009. The child endowment product is primarily used to help fund the higher costs associated with a child entering high school and college in Japan. We have successfully linked the marketing of our child endowment product to the new government subsidy that was first paid in June 2010 to families with children age 15 and younger. Sales of our child endowment product were 25.3 billion yen during 2010, an increase of 132.0% compared with 2009. We believe that life insurance products, like our child endowment plan, provide further opportunities for us to sell our third sector cancer and medical products.
WAYS is a unique hybrid product that starts out as a whole life policy. When policyholders reach a predetermined age, they can choose to convert a large part of their life benefit to a fixed annuity, medical coverage or nursing care benefits. Sales of WAYS were 12.1 billion yen during 2010, an increase of 65.7% compared with 2009. With the importance of the bank channel distribution outlet, we expect sales of this innovative and flexible product to grow substantially.
At December 31, 2010, we had agreements with 364 banks, or more than 90% of the total number of banks in Japan, to sell our products. Of all the banks we now have enrolling our products, there are still many branches in their system that are not actively selling yet, which indicates there is still significant sales growth potential through this channel. We continue to have significantly more banks selling our third sector insurance products than any other insurer operating in Japan. We believe our long-standing and strong relationships within the Japanese banking sector, along with our strategic preparations, have proven to be an advantage as this channel opened up for our types of products.
We remain committed to selling through our traditional channels, which allows us to reach consumers through affiliated corporate agencies, independent corporate agencies and individual agencies. In 2010, we recruited approximately 4,800 new sales agencies, an increase of 4.4% over 2009. At December 31, 2010, Aflac Japan was represented by more than 19,600 sales agencies and more than 115,400 licensed sales associates employed by those agencies.
We believe that there is still a continued need for our products in Japan. Following strong sales growth in 2009 and 2010, our objective for 2011 is for new annualized premium sales to be in the range of down 2% to up 3% in Japan.
Aflac Japan Investments
Growth of investment income in yen is affected by available cash flow from operations, the timing of investing the cash flow, yields on new investments, and the effect of yen/dollar exchange rates on dollar-denominated investment income. Aflac Japan has invested in privately issued securities to secure higher yields than those available on Japanese government or other public corporate bonds, while still adhering to prudent standards for credit quality. All of our privately issued securities are rated investment grade at the time of purchase. These securities are generally issued with documentation consistent with standard medium-term note programs. In addition, many of these investments have protective covenants appropriate to the specific issuer, industry and country. These covenants often require the issuer to adhere to specific financial ratios and give priority to repayment of our investment under certain circumstances.
The following table presents the results of Aflac Japans investment yields for the years ended December 31.
The decrease in the Aflac Japan new money yield reflects the low level of interest rates and tightening credit spreads. At December 31, 2010, the yield on Aflac Japans investment portfolio, including dollar-denominated investments, was 3.56%, compared with 3.77% a year ago. In order to address our challenge of investing in Japans low-interest-rate environment, in 2010 we started increasing the amount Aflac Japan invests in higher-yielding dollar-denominated securities.
The overall credit quality of Aflac Japans investments remained high. At the end of 2010, 93.6% of Aflac Japans debt and perpetual securities were rated investment grade, on an amortized cost basis. See Notes 3 and 5 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements and the Analysis of Financial Condition section of this MD&A for additional information on our investments.
The Bank of Japans January 2011 Monthly Report of Recent Economic and Financial Developments stated that Japans economy still shows signs of moderate recovery, however the recovery pace has slowed. The employment and income situation has been depressed, but seems to be easing. Exports have been weak, however they are expected to increase moderately again. Private consumption is expected to pick up. The report projected that Japans economy is expected to gradually return to a moderate recovery path.
Japans system of compulsory public health care insurance provides medical coverage to every Japanese citizen. These public medical expenditures are covered by a combination of premiums paid by insureds and their employers, taxes and copayments from the people who receive medical service. However, given Japans aging population, the resources available to these publicly funded social insurance programs have come under increasing pressure. As a result, copayments and other out-of-pocket expenses have been rising and affecting more people. We believe higher out-of-pocket expenses will lead consumers to purchase more supplemental medical insurance. Many insurance companies have recognized the opportunities for selling supplemental medical insurance in Japan
and have launched new products in recent years. However, we believe our favorable cost structure compared with other insurers makes us a very effective competitor. In addition, we believe our brand, customer service and financial strength also benefit our market position.
Japanese Regulatory Environment
We expect that our distribution system will continue to evolve in Japan. Regulatory changes that took effect in December 2007 enabled banks to sell our type of insurance products to their customers. Our strong brand as the leading seller of cancer and medical insurance products in Japan and our many long-term relationships within the Japan banking sector place us in a strong position to sell through this channel.
Japans Financial Services Agency (FSA) maintains a solvency standard, which is used by Japanese regulators to monitor the financial strength of insurance companies. The FSA will apply a revised method of calculating the solvency margin ratio for life insurance companies as of fiscal year-end 2011 (March 31, 2012) and requires the disclosure of the ratio as reference information for fiscal year-end 2010 (March 31, 2011). The FSA has stated that the revision would generally reduce life insurance companies solvency margin ratios to approximately half the level of those reported under the current calculation method. We do not expect our relative position within the industry to materially change.
In 2005, legislation aimed at privatizing Japans postal system (Japan Post) was enacted into law. The privatization laws split Japan Post into four entities that began operating in October 2007. In 2007, one of these entities selected Aflac Japan as its provider of cancer insurance to be sold through its post offices, and, in 2008, we began selling cancer insurance through these post offices. Japan Post has historically been a popular place for consumers to purchase insurance products. Currently, our products are being offered in approximately 1,000 post offices.
Japan Post reform legislation was introduced in the 2010 Japanese ordinary Diet session, but the session ended before the legislation could be passed. The legislation again failed to pass in the 2010 fall Diet session and is scheduled to be taken up in the 2011 ordinary Diet session, which opened on January 24, 2011. Given that the ruling coalition no longer controls a majority in the Diets upper house following its defeat in the July 2010 election, it is unclear whether the postal reform legislation will be passed in the 2011 ordinary Diet session. Regardless, we believe that the Diet debate on postal reform is unlikely to change Aflac Japans relationship with the post office company.
AFLAC U.S. SEGMENT
Aflac U.S. Pretax Operating Earnings
Changes in Aflac U.S. pretax operating earnings and profit margins are primarily affected by morbidity, mortality, expenses, persistency and investment yields. The following table presents a summary of operating results for Aflac U.S. for the years ended December 31.
Aflac U.S. Summary of Operating Results
Annualized premiums in force increased .3% in 2010, 3.5% in 2009 and 6.2% in 2008. Annualized premiums in force at December 31 were $5.0 billion in 2010 and 2009, compared with $4.8 billion in 2008.
The following table presents a summary of operating ratios for Aflac U.S. for the years ended December 31.
The pretax operating profit margin expanded during 2010, compared with 2009, primarily driven by the loss of a large payroll account in 2010. The loss of this account resulted in the release of the future policy benefit reserves and amortization of the deferred policy acquisition costs for policies associated with this account. The net result had a positive impact on the profit margin. In 2011, we expect the benefit and operating expense ratios and the pretax operating profit margin to be in a range similar to the levels experienced in 2009 and 2008.
Aflac U.S. Sales
The economic climate in the United States continued to pose challenges for Aflac U.S. sales growth in 2010. The following table presents Aflacs U.S. new annualized premium sales for the years ended December 31.
New annualized premium sales for accident/disability insurance, our leading product category, decreased 5.2%, cancer insurance sales decreased 10.9%, and hospital indemnity insurance sales decreased 3.2% in 2010, compared with 2009.
As part of our U.S. sales strategy we continue to focus on growing and enhancing the effectiveness of our U.S. sales force. We recruited more than 22,100 new sales associates during 2010, resulting in more than 72,500 licensed sales associates at December 31, 2010. Although recruitment of sales associates in the fourth quarter of 2010 was down 8.5%, it showed significant improvement over the 25.4% decline in recruiting for the first nine months of the year, compared with the same periods in 2009. To improve our recruiting results next year and beyond, we have amended the bonus structure for our state and regional coordinators from one that was based entirely on sales results to a structure that incorporates a people development component. We have also initiated a national recruiting contest that incentivizes producer recruitment. In addition, we provide a recruiting workshop that focuses on improving coordinator productivity by emphasizing candidate sourcing, interviewing, and contract acceptance.
In addition to expanding the size and capabilities of our traditional sales force, we are encouraged about the opportunities to broaden our distribution by pursuing and strengthening relationships with insurance brokers. Insurance brokers have been a historically underleveraged sales channel for Aflac, and we are developing relationships that will complement our traditional distribution system with the Aflac for BrokersSM initiative that we launched in 2009. We assembled a management team experienced in broker sales, and we are supporting this initiative with streamlined products, targeted broker-specific advertising campaigns, customized enrollment technology, and competitive compensation. Additionally, a new level of management has been introduced to deliver this initiative. More than 100 broker development coordinators have been hired to be single points of contact for brokers across the country. Broker development coordinators are responsible for building relationships with new brokers as well as strengthening relationships with our current brokers. These coordinators are assisted by a team of certified case managers whose role is to coordinate and manage the account enrollments for brokers.
Furthering our initiatives in the broker arena, we purchased CAIC in 2009. CAIC, now branded as Aflac Group Insurance, equips us with a platform for offering voluntary group insurance products for distribution by insurance brokers at the worksite. New annualized premium sales for Aflac U.S. in 2010 included sales from Aflac Group Insurance of $83 million. These sales of group insurance products represented 6% of total U.S. sales production. Group insurance sales from the fourth quarter of 2010 of $43 million were 58.7% higher than the same quarter in prior year and represented 51.4% of Aflac Group Insurance production for the full year. We expect group products to enhance sales opportunities not only for brokers but also for our traditional sales force of individual associates, especially when they pursue larger payroll accounts.
Although we remain cautious in our short-term sales outlook for Aflac U.S., our longer-term view has not changed. We believe the need for our products we sell remains strong, and that the United States provides a vast and accessible market for our products. We are taking measures to better reach potential customers through our product and distribution strategy, which includes broadening our product portfolio to include group products in addition to our traditional individually issued products. Following the passage of health care reform in 2010, we believe employers and consumers will increasingly come to understand the need for the products we offer, just as they have in Japan. For 2011, our objective is for Aflac U.S. new annualized premium sales to be flat to up 5%, however we remain cautious until we see further stability in the economy.
Aflac U.S. Investments
The following table presents the results of Aflacs U.S. investment yields for the years ended December 31.
The decrease in the U.S. new money yield in 2010 reflects a low level of interest rates and tightening credit spreads. At December 31, 2010, the portfolio yield on Aflacs U.S. portfolio was 6.92%, compared with 7.17% a year ago. We have $200 million of variable interest rate collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) that support $200 million of variable interest rate funding agreements issued by Aflac U.S. Because these CDOs do not support our core policyholder benefit obligations, the yield on these CDOs is not included in the Aflac U.S. portfolio yield or in the yields listed in the above table.
The overall credit quality of Aflac U.S. investments remained high. At the end of 2010, 95.7% of Aflac U.S. debt and perpetual securities were rated investment grade, on an amortized cost basis. See the Credit Risk section of this MD&A for additional information.
See Notes 3 and 5 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements and the Analysis of Financial Condition section of this MD&A for additional information on our investments.
Operating in the U.S. economy continues to be challenging. Ongoing low confidence levels from consumers and small businesses coupled with fewer employees at the worksite continue to pose challenges to our U.S. sales growth. Most of our business continues to revolve around small business owners and accounts with fewer than 100 employees. Small businesses, in particular, have proven to be especially vulnerable to ongoing economic weakness, and both small-business owners and their workers are anxious about the future. Workers at small businesses are holding back on increasing their spending for voluntary insurance products. Although we believe that the weakened U.S. economy has been a contributing factor to slower sales growth, we also believe our products remain affordable to the average American consumer. We believe that consumers underlying need for our U.S. product line remains strong, and that the United States remains a sizeable and attractive market for our products.
U.S. Regulatory Environment
In March 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) to give Americans of all ages and income levels access to comprehensive major medical health insurance. The primary subject of the new legislation is major medical insurance; therefore, the PPACA, as enacted, does not directly affect the design of our insurance products or our sales model. Our experience with Japans national health care environment leads us to believe that the need for our products will only increase over the coming years.
In July 2010, President Obama signed into law the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, commonly known as the Dodd-Frank Act, which, among other things, created a Financial Stability and Oversight Council. The Council may designate by a two-thirds vote whether certain insurance companies and insurance holding companies pose a grave threat to the financial stability of the United States, in which case such nonbank
financial companies would become subject to prudential regulation by the Board of Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve, including capital requirements, leverage limits, liquidity requirements and examinations. The Board may limit such companys ability to enter into merger transactions, restrict its ability to offer financial products, require it to terminate one or more activities, or impose conditions on the manner in which it conducts activities. The Dodd-Frank Act also established a Federal Insurance Office under the U.S. Treasury Department to monitor all aspects of the insurance industry and of lines of business other than certain health insurance, certain long-term care insurance and crop insurance. Traditionally, U.S. insurance companies have been regulated primarily by state insurance departments. The Dodd-Frank Act requires extensive rule-making and other future regulatory action, which in some cases will take a period of years to implement. Despite the lack of regulations to implement this law, we believe that Aflac would not likely be considered a company that would pose a systemic risk to the financial stability of the United States. However, at the current time, it is not possible to predict with any degree of certainty what impact, if any, the Dodd-Frank Act will have on our U.S. business, financial condition, or results of operations.
Corporate operating expenses consist primarily of personnel compensation, benefits and facilities expenses. Corporate expenses, excluding investment income, were $67 million in 2010, $77 million in 2009 and $61 million in 2008. The increase in expenses in 2009 was due primarily to an increase in realized foreign currency losses on yen cash held by the Parent Company and an increase in expense for our unfunded supplemental retirement plans. Investment income included in reported corporate expenses was $11 million in 2010, $9 million in 2009 and $20 million in 2008.
ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION
Our financial condition has remained strong in the functional currencies of our operations. The yen/dollar exchange rate at the end of each period is used to translate yen-denominated balance sheet items to U.S. dollars for reporting purposes.
The following table demonstrates the effect of the change in the yen/dollar exchange rate by comparing select balance sheet items as reported at December 31, 2010, with the amounts that would have been reported had the exchange rate remained unchanged from December 31, 2009.
Impact of Foreign Exchange on Balance Sheet Items
Market Risks of Financial Instruments
Our investment philosophy is to maximize investment income while emphasizing liquidity, safety and quality. Our investment objective, subject to appropriate risk constraints, is to fund policyholder obligations and other liabilities in a manner that enhances shareholders equity. We seek to achieve this objective through a diversified portfolio of fixed-income investments that reflects the characteristics of the liabilities it supports. Aflac invests primarily within the fixed income securities markets.
The following table details investment securities by segment as of December 31.
Investment Securities by Segment
Because we invest in fixed-income securities, our financial instruments are exposed primarily to three types of market risks: currency risk, interest rate risk and credit risk.
The functional currency of Aflac Japans insurance operation is the Japanese yen. All of Aflac Japans premiums, claims and commissions are received or paid in yen, as are most of its investment income and other expenses. Furthermore, most of Aflac Japans investments, cash and liabilities are yen-denominated. When yen-denominated securities mature or are sold, the proceeds are generally reinvested in yen-denominated securities. Aflac Japan holds these yen-denominated assets to fund its yen-denominated policy obligations. In addition, Aflac Incorporated has yen-denominated debt obligations.
Although we generally do not convert yen into dollars, we do translate financial statement amounts from yen into dollars for financial reporting purposes. Therefore, reported amounts are affected by foreign currency fluctuations. We report unrealized foreign currency translation gains and losses in accumulated other comprehensive income.
Aflac Japan maintains a portfolio of reverse-dual currency securities (yen-denominated debt securities with dollar coupon payments), which exposes Aflac to changes in foreign exchange rates. This foreign currency effect is accounted for as a component of unrealized gains or losses on available-for-sale securities in accumulated other comprehensive income. When the yen strengthens against the dollar, shareholders equity is negatively impacted and, conversely, when the yen weakens against the dollar, shareholders equity is positively impacted. Aflac Japan invests a portion of its assets in reverse-dual currency securities to provide a higher yield than those available on Japanese government or other public corporate bonds, while still adhering to prudent standards of credit quality. The yen/dollar exchange rate would have to strengthen to approximately 50 before the yield on these instruments would equal that of a comparable yen-denominated instrument.
On a consolidated basis, we attempt to minimize the exposure of shareholders equity to foreign currency translation fluctuations. We accomplish this by investing a portion of Aflac Japans investment portfolio in dollar-denominated securities and by the Parent Companys issuance of yen-denominated debt (for additional information, see the discussion under Hedging Activities as follows in this section of MD&A). As a result, the effect of currency fluctuations on our net assets is reduced.
The following table demonstrates the effect of foreign currency fluctuations by presenting the dollar values of our yen-denominated assets and liabilities, and our consolidated yen-denominated net asset exposure at selected exchange rates as of December 31.
Dollar Value of Yen-Denominated Assets and Liabilities
at Selected Exchange Rates