The rating upgrades for FB Life recognize its solid risk-adjusted and absolute capitalization, consistently positive operating earnings and an aggregate unrealized gain position in its investment portfolio. The ratings continue to recognize FB Life’s more balanced business profile between life and annuity reserves, stable profitability trends and its strong affinity within the Farm Bureau market. The rating actions also reflect A.M. Best’s belief that the significant capital calls from FFG to fund the rapid growth at EquiTrust will no longer be necessary. Thus, the rating drag has been removed from the ratings of FB Life. FB Life will continue to face the challenge of managing spread compression in a low interest rate environment and high, but declining, exposure to real estate related assets.
The rating affirmations of EquiTrust reflect its more favorable risk-adjusted and absolute capitalization, which has improved due to the significant decline in annuity production and the company’s profitable earnings recorded at year-end 2009 and through the second quarter of 2010, resulting from reduced new business strain and an aggregate unrealized gain position in its investment portfolio. The sales reduction reflects management’s recent efforts to make EquiTrust capital self-sufficient and return it to a profitable operating earnings position. While the new product portfolio emphasizes lower strain products and a more balanced approach to annuity and life production, EquiTrust will continue to be challenged to manage spread compression in this low interest rate environment, given the very high interest rate sensitivity of its liability structure. Similar to FB Life, EquiTrust has a high level of real estate related investments.
The rating affirmations of FFG acknowledge its adequate interest coverage and leverage position as well as the company’s still elevated, albeit reduced, levels of intangibles to equity. A.M. Best notes that FFG has $100 million in private debt due in 2011. FFG has eliminated the unrealized loss position in its fixed income portfolio, and through the second quarter of 2010 is in a gain position reflecting general market improvement and portfolio rebalancing.
The revised outlook recognizes A.M. Best’s belief that additional investment impairments will likely be within tolerance for the organization’s capital position, even as commercial mortgage backed securities and commercial mortgage loan portfolios are likely to remain under pressure for the near term. In addition, A.M. Best believes that spread management will continue to be a challenge for FFG, although spreads are within prescribed targets.
The following debt ratings have been affirmed:
The following indicative ratings on securities available under the shelf registration have been affirmed: